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Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program

Psychology

Year Degree Awarded

2016

Month Degree Awarded

May

First Advisor

Erik Cheries

Subject Categories

Developmental Psychology

Abstract

Our understanding of the social world is highly influenced by the fast and automatic evaluations we make about others based on their facial appearance. The goal of the current studies is to explore the developmental origins of the particular face-trait evaluation of ‘trustworthiness.’ Experiment 1 tested whether 10-month-old infants differentiate between faces that adults rate as trustworthy and untrustworthy, and if they have a preference for one over the other in a crawling task. Experiment 2 tested whether 10-month-olds have implicit expectations about the social behavior of characters with trustworthy of untrustworthy faces in a looking-time task that presents infants with congruent or incongruent trait-action pairings. Finally, Experiment 3 explored the development of more explicit face-trait judgments by testing 2-year-old’ performance in a pointing task that required them to match a helpful or unhelpful action with characters that possess ‘trustworthy’ or ‘untrustworthy’ faces. Taken together, these studies provide preliminary evidence for a rudimentary form of face-based social evaluation in infancy.

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