Dealing with you

Kevin Lewis

October 29, 2017

Split-second trustworthiness detection from faces in an economic game
Wim De Neys, Astrid Hopfensitz & Jean-François Bonnefon
Experimental Psychology, July/August 2017, Pages 231-239


Economic interactions often imply to gauge the trustworthiness of others. Recent studies showed that when making trust decisions in economic games, people have some accuracy in detecting trustworthiness from the facial features of unknown partners. Here we provide evidence that this face-based trustworthiness detection is a fast and intuitive process by testing its performance at split-second levels of exposure. Participants played a Trust game, in which they made decisions whether to trust another player based on their picture. In two studies, we manipulated the exposure time of the picture. We observed that trustworthiness detection remained better than chance for exposure times as short as 100 ms, although it disappeared with an exposure time of 33 ms. We discuss implications for ongoing debates on the use of facial inferences for social and economic decisions.

High status males invest more than high status females in lower status same-sex collaborators
Henry Markovits et al.
PLoS ONE, September 2017


Studies on human cooperation using economic games rarely include ecologically relevant factors. In studies on non-human primates however, both status and sex typically influence patterns of cooperation. Across primate species, high status individuals are more likely to cooperate, though this depends on the species-specific social structure of each sex. Based on human social structure, we predict that higher status males who interact more in hierarchical groups than females, will invest more than high status females in valued same-sex peers after successful cooperation. Across three studies, 187 male and 188 female participants cooperated with a (fictitious) same-sex partner who varied in competence. Participants then divided a reward between themselves and their partner. High status was induced in three different ways in each study, social influence, leadership and power. No overall sex difference in reward sharing was observed. Consistent with the hypothesis however, across all three studies, high status males invested more than high status females in cooperative partners, suggesting that high status males intuitively evaluate sharing rewards with same-sex partners as more beneficial.

Facebook-to-Facebook: Online communication and economic cooperation
Anna Lou Abatayo, John Lynham & Katerina Sherstyuk
Applied Economics Letters, forthcoming


Direct face-to-face communication has traditionally been found to be more effective for fostering economic cooperation than any form of indirect, mediated communication. We inquire whether this is still the case since most young adults routinely use texting and online social media to communicate with each other. We find that young adults in our laboratory public goods experiment are just as adept at finding and sustaining cooperative agreements when communicating within a Facebook group and through online chat as they are in person.

Power as an emotional liability: Implications for perceived authenticity and trust after a transgression
Peter Kim et al.
Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, October 2017, Pages 1379-1401


People may express a variety of emotions after committing a transgression. Through 6 empirical studies and a meta-analysis, we investigate how the perceived authenticity of such emotional displays and resulting levels of trust are shaped by the transgressor’s power. Past findings suggest that individuals with power tend to be more authentic because they have more freedom to act on the basis of their own personal inclinations. Yet, our findings reveal that (a) a transgressor’s display of emotion is perceived to be less authentic when that party’s power is high rather than low; (b) this perception of emotional authenticity, in turn, directly influences (and mediates) the level of trust in that party; and (c) perceivers ultimately exert less effort when asked to make a case for leniency toward high rather than low-power transgressors. This tendency to discount the emotional authenticity of the powerful was found to arise from power increasing the transgressor’s perceived level of emotional control and strategic motivation, rather than a host of alternative mechanisms. These results were also found across different types of emotions (sadness, anger, fear, happiness, and neutral), expressive modalities, operationalizations of the transgression, and participant populations. Altogether, our findings demonstrate that besides the wealth of benefits power can afford, it also comes with a notable downside. The findings, furthermore, extend past research on perceived emotional authenticity, which has focused on how and when specific emotions are expressed, by revealing how this perception can depend on considerations that have nothing to do with the expression itself.

When your anchor sinks your boat: Information asymmetry in distributive negotiations and the disadvantage of making the first offer
Yossi Maaravi & Aharon Levy
Judgment and Decision Making, September 2017, Pages 420–429


The literature on behavioral decision-making and negotiations to date usually advocates first-mover advantage in distributive negotiations, and bases this preference on the anchoring heuristic. In the following paper, we suggest that the preference for moving first vs. moving second in negotiations may not be as clear-cut as presumed, especially in situations characterized by information asymmetry between negotiating counterparts. In Study 1, we examined people’s initiation preferences and found that unless taught otherwise, people intuitively often prefer to move second. In Studies 2–4, we experimentally tested the suggested advantage of moving second, and demonstrated that in information-asymmetry scenarios – when one party has perfect background information and the other has none — it is actually preferable for both counterparts not to give the first offer while negotiating. We discuss the implications of our findings on the field of negotiation and decision-making, and lay the groundwork for future studies examining this issue.

Ethnic diversity, out-group contacts and social trust in a high-trust society
Karl Loxbo
Acta Sociologica, forthcoming


Although ethnic diversity is widely believed to undermine social trust, several scholars have argued that this outcome ultimately depends on the extent of high-quality contacts between diverse groups as well as the extent of equality in society. This article scrutinises these different hypotheses by exploring the association between ethnic diversity and social trust among Swedish schoolchildren. Building on data from Sweden, where legacies of equality would be expected to provide unique opportunities for building trust among diverse groups, the contribution of the article to the literature is twofold. First, it was found that contextual diversity is only weakly related to adolescents’ trust. Furthermore, while interactions revealed that a higher socio-economic level in a classroom reinforces, rather than cushions, the adverse effect, it is concluded that contextual measures obscure the micro-level dynamic underlying the association between diversity and trust in classrooms. Second, when accounting for compositional effects, and the distinction between in-group and out-group contact, the findings strongly supported the conflict hypothesis, while rejecting the contact hypothesis. The principal finding is that ethnic diversity in a classroom undermines social trust among native-born adolescents, whereas the effect is the exact opposite for minorities. In addition, social trust is only promoted if adolescents interact with members of their ethnic in-group. Because these disconcerting results were found in the high-trust context of Sweden, it is suggested that similar findings are likely in less favourable settings. The article concludes by arguing that the high levels of social trust in traditionally homogenous, but increasingly segregated, countries such as Sweden may conceal the fact that individuals primarily include others who are similar to themselves in their ‘imagined communities’.

to your National Affairs subscriber account.

Already a subscriber? Activate your account.


Unlimited access to intelligent essays on the nation’s affairs.

Subscribe to National Affairs.