Registered report: Social face evaluation: ethnicity-specific differences in the judgement of trustworthiness of faces and facial parts

Irina Schmid, Zachary Witkower, Friedrich M. Götz, Stefan Stieger

Research output: Journal article (peer-reviewed)Journal article

2 Citations (Scopus)


Social face evaluation is a common and consequential element of everyday life based on the judgement of trustworthiness. However, the particular facial regions that guide such trustworthiness judgements are largely unknown. It is also unclear whether different facial regions are consistently utilized to guide judgments for different ethnic groups, and whether previous exposure to specific ethnicities in one's social environment has an influence on trustworthiness judgements made from faces or facial regions. This registered report addressed these questions through a global online survey study that recruited Asian, Black, Latino, and White raters (N = 4580). Raters were shown full faces and specific parts of the face for an ethnically diverse, sex-balanced set of 32 targets and rated targets' trustworthiness. Multilevel modelling showed that in forming trustworthiness judgements, raters relied most strongly on the eyes (with no substantial information loss vis-à-vis full faces). Corroborating ingroup-outgroup effects, raters rated faces and facial parts of targets with whom they shared their ethnicity, sex, or eye color as significantly more trustworthy. Exposure to ethnic groups in raters' social environment predicted trustworthiness ratings of other ethnic groups in nuanced ways. That is, raters from the ambient ethnic majority provided slightly higher trustworthiness ratings for stimuli of their own ethnicity compared to minority ethnicities. In contrast, raters from an ambient ethnic minority (e.g., immigrants) provided substantially lower trustworthiness ratings for stimuli of the ethnic majority. Taken together, the current study provides a new window into the psychological processes underlying social face evaluation and its cultural generalizability. PROTOCOL REGISTRATION: The stage 1 protocol for this Registered Report was accepted in principle on 7 January 2022. The protocol, as accepted by the journal, can be found at: .

Original languageEnglish
Article number18311
Pages (from-to)18311
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022


  • Ethnicity
  • Face
  • Facial Expression
  • Humans
  • Judgment
  • Minority Groups
  • Trust/psychology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Multidisciplinary


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