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Derek C. Swe, Romina Palermo, O. Scott Gwinn, Jason Bell, Anju Nakanishi, Jemma Collova, Clare A. M. Sutherland; Trustworthiness perception is mandatory: Task instructions do not modulate fast periodic visual stimulation trustworthiness responses. Journal of Vision 2022;22(11):17. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/jov.22.11.17.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Although it is often assumed that humans spontaneously respond to the trustworthiness of others’ faces, it is still unclear whether responses to facial trust are mandatory or can be modulated by instructions. Considerable scientific interest lies in understanding whether trust processing is mandatory, given the societal consequences of biased trusting behavior. We tested whether neural responses indexing trustworthiness discrimination depended on whether the task involved focusing on facial trustworthiness or not, using a fast periodic visual stimulation electroencephalography oddball paradigm with a neural marker of trustworthiness discrimination at 1 Hz. Participants judged faces on size without any reference to trust, explicitly formed impressions of facial trust, or were given a financial lending context that primed trust, without explicit trust judgement instructions. Significant trustworthiness discrimination responses at 1 Hz were found in all three conditions, demonstrating the robust nature of trustworthiness discrimination at the neural level. Moreover, no effect of task instruction was observed, with Bayesian analyses providing moderate to decisive evidence that task instruction did not affect trustworthiness discrimination. Our finding that visual trustworthiness discrimination is mandatory points to the remarkable spontaneity of trustworthiness processing, providing clues regarding why these often unreliable impressions are ubiquitous.
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