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Study on "facial trustworthiness" reveals surprising bias in court outcomes

First impressions are more than lasting; in some cases, they can alter the course of an entire life. 

A University of Toronto study published earlier this month in the journal, Psychological Science, argues that whether or not a person has a face that appears trustworthy could determine their outcomes in court, as well as their treatment in prison. 

NPR reports:
Facial trustworthiness is a significant predictor of the sentence people receive," says John Paul Wilson, who led the study and is a social psychologist at the University of Toronto.

Past research has shown that people make quick judgments about someone's character based on their face. For instance, we tend to place more trust in someone whose lips naturally turn upward when their face is relaxed, Wilson says; it's like they're making a smile. The opposite is felt for people who have lips that curve downward, like a frown.

To learn how these biases affect real-life scenarios with serious implications, the research team collected more than 700 mugshots of white and African-American criminals in Florida. Images of the state's prisoners are freely available to the public online.

Read the full story here
Source: NPR
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