Is the face a window to the soul? (study)

‘Is the face a window to the soul?’ – asks Professor Stephen B. Porter, Ph.D. (University of British Columbia-Okanagan) and colleagues, in a 2008 paper for the Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science. To find out, they devised an experiment in which undergraduate students were shown photos of both Nobel Peace Prize winners and criminals from America’s Most Wanted list – either for 1/10th of a second or for 30 seconds. The crucial question was – could participants tell the difference between a Nobel Peace Prize winner and someone eluding justice for extremely serious crimes?

“We conclude that intuition lends a small advantage when making assessments of trustworthiness based on facial appearance, but errors are common. However, the knowledge that some targets to be encountered are untrustworthy serves to increase the accuracy of identifying such targets. Finally, extending exposure time beyond a fleeting glance does not change or improve judgments of trustworthiness. Overall, our results suggest that the face is a rather opaque window to the soul. [our emphasis]

See: Is the Face a Window to the Soul? Investigation of the Accuracy of Intuitive Judgments of the Trustworthiness of Human Faces, Stephen Porter, Laura England, Marcus Juodis, Leanne ten Brinke, and Kevin Wilson, Dalhousie University, US, Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science, 2008, Vol. 40, No. 3, 171–177.

Note: America’s Most Wanted list is currently offline. however, current photos can be found instead via the FBI.