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Study determines why we unconsciously judge one another as untrustworthy

Headline: Study determines why we unconsciously judge one another as untrustworthy

Ever wonder why you get a feeling of trustworthiness with a random stranger and jump to judgmental conclusions with others? Well, blame it on your brain, which makes unconscious judgments on its own. The Journal of Neuroscience has published a study that proves our brains judge the trustworthiness of a person based on facial features.

The amygdala, a small set of neurons responsible for processing emotions, was the primary focus of the study. When the test subject saw certain facial features of real people and on computer-generated faces such as lowered eyebrows and faint cheekbones, the testers saw these as indicators of an untrustworthy person. Raised eyebrows and pronounced cheekbones were seen as trustworthy facial features. The series of images were composed into a range of high to low trustworthiness based off these features.

For the following experiment, the test subjects were placed within an MRI scanner and shown random images on a screen. In between those images were pictures of the real and animated faces they had previously deemed trustworthy or not, each appearing for only milliseconds at a time. While the faces were shown too fast to process with their vision, the amygdala kicked in and gave off a reading for high, medium or low trustworthiness; proving how much faster the brain is than our eyes.

"Our findings suggest that the brain automatically responds to a face's trustworthiness before it is even consciously perceived," explains Jonathan Freeman, the study's senior author.

The study concluded that the amygdala is able to respond to social signals from other people, previously unknown until these results proved otherwise. Have you ever fallen in love at first sight? Well, these results might help you better understand those feelings.

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