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Learning about Faces: Effects of Trustworthiness on Affective Evaluation

  • Luis Aguado (a1), Francisco J. Román (a1), María Fernández-Cahill (a1), Teresa Diéguez-Risco (a1) and Verónica Romero-Ferreiro (a1)...

The results of two studies on the relationship between evaluations of trustworthiness, valence and arousal of faces are reported. In Experiment 1, valence and trustworthiness judgments of faces were positively correlated, while arousal was negatively correlated with both trustworthiness and valence. In Experiment 2, learning about faces based on their emotional expression and the extent to which this learning is influenced by perceived trustworthiness was investigated. Neutral faces of different models differing in trustworthiness were repeatedly associated with happy or with angry expressions and the participants were asked to categorize each neutral face as belonging to a “friend” or to an “enemy” based on these associations. Four pairing conditions were defined in terms of the congruency between trustworthiness level and expression: Trustworthy-congruent, trustworthy-incongruent, untrustworthy-congruent and untrustworthy-incongruent. Categorization accuracy during the learning phase and face evaluation after learning were measured. During learning, participants learned to categorize with similar efficiency trustworthy and untrustworthy faces as friends or enemies and thus no effects of congruency were found. In the evaluation phase, faces of enemies were rated as more negative and arousing than those of friends, thus showing that learning was effective to change the affective value of the faces. However, faces of untrustworthy models were still judged on average more negative and arousing than those of trustworthy ones. In conclusion, although face trustworthiness did not influence learning of associations between faces and positive or negative social information it did have a significant influence on face evaluation that was manifest even after that learning.

Se presentan dos estudios sobre la relación entre la evaluación de caras en confiabilidad, valencia y activación. En el Experimento 1 confiabilidad y valencia correlacionaron positivamente y activación correlacionó negativamente con confiabilidad y valencia. En el Experimento 2 se analizó el aprendizaje basado en la expresión facial, estudiando la posibilidad de que se viera afectado por la confiabilidad percibida de las caras. Caras neutras de distinta confiabilidad aparecieron asociadas con expresiones de ira o alegría, pidiéndose a los participantes que categorizasen cada cara neutra como perteneciente a un “amigo” o a un “enemigo”. Se definieron cuatro condiciones según la congruencia entre confiabilidad y expresión: confiable-congruente, confiable-incongruente, no confiable-congruente y no confiable-incongruente. Se midió la precisión de la categorización durante la fase de aprendizaje y la evaluación posterior de las caras. Los participantes aprendieron a categorizar con igual eficacia caras confiables y no confiables como amigos o enemigos, no observándose, por tanto, efectos de congruencia. Las caras de enemigos fueron evaluadas como más negativas y activadoras que las de los amigos, mostrando que el aprendizaje había alterado el valor afectivo de las caras. No obstante, las caras de los modelos menos confiables aún fueron juzgadas por término medio como más negativas y activadoras que las de los más confiables. En resumen, aunque el nivel de confiabilidad no afectó a la formación de asociaciones entre caras e información social positiva o negativa, sí tuvo un efecto significativo sobre la evaluación afectiva de las caras que se manifestó incluso después del aprendizaje.

Corresponding author
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Luis Aguado, Facultad de Psicología, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Campus de Somosaguas, 28223, Madrid (Spain). Phone: +34-913943161. Fax: +34-913943179. E-mail:
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The Spanish Journal of Psychology
  • ISSN: 1138-7416
  • EISSN: 1988-2904
  • URL: /core/journals/spanish-journal-of-psychology
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