You know that icky, uncomfortable feeling you get when approached by the wrong guy in a bar? Well, you may not be able to explain what exactly gave you the creeps... but science can! Psychologists at Princeton have identified facial features that create an impression of trustworthiness (or lack thereof).

According to their findings, features like high inner eyebrows and a wide chin (a la Jim Carrey, at left in "Liar Liar") tend to appear more trustworthy. Pronounced cheekbones and a shallow indentation above the bridge of the nose have a similar effect, while a thin chin, shallow cheekbones, and low inner eyebrow create a less than trustworthy impression.

Click here to see what "trustworthy" and "untrustworthy" faces look like ...



In an earlier Princeton study, researchers discovered that these kinds of judgments ("he seems OK, maybe I'll let him buy me a drink" or "no way, Jose!") happen within a tenth of a second. Two researchers performed several experiments, including showing photos of faces to about 200 test subjects. The subjects were shown images for 100 milliseconds, 500 milliseconds, or a full second, then asked if they felt the face was trustworthy and how confident their answer was.

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The longer the subjects looked at the faces, the more confident they became in their judgment, but the initial reaction remained the same. They also tested for traits such as likability and competence. But here's some good news for thin chinned, shallow cheeked men: the researchers added that the rational mind can override these impressions over time.

We ran the Boston Globe's sample composites for the most trustworthy, neutral and untrustworthy faces through facial recognition software, which returned "The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe"'s William Mosely (most trustworthy), Kanye West (neutral), and novelist Evelyn Waugh (least trustworthy).



Tell us! Have you ever made assumptions based on facial features? Was your intuition on target? Or did you miss the mark?

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