The present research expands on prior research that demonstrated a prototypical facial expression in response to cute, baby-like Kindchenschema targets. This expression, referred to as the tenderness expression, is recognizable to onlookers as a response to such stimuli. Across two studies, the current research examined if there were differences in perceptions of trustworthiness (Studies 1 and 2) and willingness to trust (Study 2) toward individuals displaying the tenderness expression as compared to a Duchenne smile or a neutral expression. Results indicate the tenderness expression is associated with lower ratings of trustworthiness relative to a smile, but no differences among the expressions on willingness to trust. Exploratory analyses demonstrate a replicated pattern of differences on the Big Five Personality Inventory among these three expressions. While these findings were not consistent with a priori hypotheses, this research provides further insight into the social implications associated with this tenderness expression.
- Tenderness expression as a signal for trustworthiness
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Statement of Responsibility
by Makenzie J. O'Neil