Young Children Judge Trustworthiness & Competence Based on Your Face

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Courtesy of Stockvault

Research led by led by psychological scientist Emily Cogsdill of Harvard University, reported by The Association for Psychological Sciences  shows that judging others based on their physical features begins at a very early age.

As many of us know and as past research has shown,  adults regularly use faces to make judgments about the character traits of others, even with only a brief glance. But it’s unclear whether this tendency is one that slowly builds as a result of life experiences or is instead a more fundamental impulse that emerges early in life.

These findings link the predisposition to judge others based on physical features to toddlers in early childhood and notes that this skill does not require years of social experience.  Children as young as 3 years tend to judge an individual’s character traits, such as trustworthiness and competence and make a consensus in judgments based on a person’s face.

Cogsill and her research partners note,If adult-child agreement in face-to-trait inferences emerges gradually across development, one might infer that these inferences require prolonged social experience to reach an adultlike state.  If instead young children’s inferences are like those of adults, this would indicate that face-to-trait character inferences are a fundamental social cognitive capacity that emerges early in life.

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