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Pretty Faces Gain Children's Trust

Update Date: Oct 25, 2013 04:42 PM EDT

Even children are biased towards beauty.

Psychologists found that children are more likely to trust adults with attractive faces.

The latest study involved 32 four and five-year-olds who were shown 12 photographs of women aged 18 to 29. The pictures had been chosen from 56 original photographs by a group of university students who rated their attractiveness. However, only the most attractive and unattractive were included in the study.

"When learning about the world, children rely heavily on information provided to them by other people," lead researcher Dr Igor Bascandziev of Harvard University said in a news release. "Previous studies have shown children can be influenced by a range of factors such as whether the adult was correct in the past or if they are familiar to them."

"Our study wanted to examine whether children would trust an attractive stranger over an unattractive stranger," Bascandziev added.

The children were first shown pictures of six novel objects and asked to name them. However, regardless of whether the child guessed correctly or not, researchers suggested that they ask one of two people. The children were then shown two of the photographs, one attractive and the other unattractive, and asked who they thought would know the answer.  After the children made their decisions, they were shown what each photographed woman said the objet was and asked which person they believed was right.

The findings revealed that more children, especially girls, selected the attractive face initially and both boys and girls were more likely to trust the answer given by the more attractive face.

"We see from the results that children and especially girls have more trust in attractive faces, even though there are no obvious reasons why people with more attractive faces would be more knowledgeable about object labels," Bascandziev said.

"The gender difference could relate to boys not paying as much attention to the initial presentation of the faces or other research has pointed to the fact that females have superior face perception," he added.

"It would be interesting to see future research explore whether children would continue favoring the more attractive face even when they have evidence that the more attractive face is unreliable and the less attractive informant is a reliable informant," Bascandziev concluded.

The findings are published in the British Journal of Developmental Psychology.

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