The current research examines the moderating role of mood in the relationship between beauty and trust. We propose that varying mood states can evoke different trust behaviors depending on the facial attractiveness of a person. Two experiments, each with different experiment paradigms, showed that people are more likely to rely on the characteristics of their partner’s face beauty in trust building when they are experiencing a positive mood. However, when participants are primed for a negative mood, the influence of attractiveness disappears. This finding indicates that facial attractiveness has no influence on trust behavior in a negative mood condition. These findings further illuminate the underlying influence of mood in the beauty-trust link.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Aharon, I., Etcoff, N. L., Ariely, D., Chabris, C. F., O’Connor, E., & Breiter, H. C. (2001). Beautiful faces have variable reward value: fMRI and behavior evidence. Neuron, 32(32), 537–551.
Avramova, Y. R., Stapel, D. A., & Lerouge, D. (2010). Mood and context-dependence: Positive mood increases and negative mood decreases the effects of context on perception. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 99(2), 203–214.
Bascandziev, I., & Harris, P. L. (2013). In beauty we trust: Children prefer information from more attractive informants. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 32(1), 94–99.
Berg, J., Dickhaut, J., & McCabe, K. (1995). Trust, reciprocity, and social history. Games and Economic Behavior, 10(1), 122–142.
Berry, D. S., & McArthur, L. Z. (1986). Perceiving character in faces: The impact of age-related craniofacial changes on social perception. Psychological Bulletin, 100(1), 3–18.
Blair, I. V., Chapleau, K. M., & Judd, C. M. (2005). The use of Afrocentric features as cues for judgment in the presence of diagnostic information. European Journal of Social Psychology, 35, 59–68.
Blanton, H., & Jaccard, J. (2006). Tests of multiplicative models in psychology: A case study using the unified theory of implicit attitudes, stereotypes, self-esteem, and self-concept. Psychological Review, 113(1), 155–166.
Bless, H., & Fiedler, K. (1995). Affective state and the influence of activated general knowledge. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 21(7), 766–778.
Bless, H., & Fiedler, K. (2006). Mood and the regulation of information processing and behavior. Affect in Social Thinking and Behavior, 8, 65–84.
Bless, H., Bohner, G., Schwarz, N., & Strack, F. (1990). Mood and persuasion: A cognitive response analysis. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 16(2), 331–345.
Bless, H., Schwarz, N., & Wieland, R. (1996). Mood and the impact of category membership and individuating information. European Journal of Social Psychology, 26(6), 935–959.
Bower, G. H., & Forgaas, J. P. (2001). Mood and social memory. Handbook of Affect and Social Cognition, 95–120.
Brewer, M. B. (2008). Depersonalized trust and in-group cooperation. In J. I. Krueger (Ed.), Rationality and social responsibility: essays in honor of Robyn Mason Dawes (pp. 215–232). New York: Psychology Press.
Chaudhuri, A., Sopher, B., & Strand, P. (2002). Cooperation in social dilemmas, trust and reciprocity. Journal of Economic Psychology, 23(2), 231–249.
Corneille, O., Monin, B., & Pleyers, G. (2005). Is positivity a cue or a response option? Warm glow vs. evaluative matching in the familiarity for attractive and not-so-attractive faces. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 41(4), 431–437.
Dion, K., Berscheid, E., & Walster, E. (1972). What is beautiful is good. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 24(3), 285–290.
Dunn, J. R., & Schweitzer, M. E. (2005). Feeling and believing: the influence of emotion on trust. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 88(5), 736–748.
Eagly, A. H., Ashmore, R. D., Makhijani, M. G., & Longo, L. C. (1991). What is beautiful is good, but...: A meta-analytic review of the research on the physical attractiveness stereotype. Psychological Bulletin, 110, 109–128.
Eisenberg, N., Fabes, R. A., Miller, P. A., Fultz, J., Shell, R., Mathy, R. M., & Reno, R. R. (1989). Relation of sympathy and personal distress to prosocial behavior: a multimethod study. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 57(1), 55–66.
Epley, N., & Whitchurch, E. (2008). Mirror, mirror on the wall: enhancement in self-recognition. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 34, 1159–1170.
Fehr, E., & Fischbacher, U. (2003). The nature of human altruism. Nature, 425, 785–791.
Forgas, J. P. (2007). When sad is better than happy: negative affect can improve the quality and effectiveness of persuasive messages and social influence strategies. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 43(4), 513–528.
Forgas, J. P. (2008). Affect and cognition. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 3(2), 94–101.
Gigerenzer, G., & Gaissmaier, W. (2011). Heuristic decision making. Annual Review Psychology,, 62, 451–482.
Halberstadt, J., & Rhodes, G. (2003). It’s not just average faces that are attractive: Computer-manipulated averageness makes birds, fish, and automobiles attractive. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review,, 10(1), 149–156.
Hassin, R., & Trope, Y. (2000). Facing faces: studies on the cognitive aspects of physiognomy. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 78(5), 837–852.
Hertel, G., & Fiedler, K. (1994). Affective and cognitive influences in social dilemma game. European Journal of Social Psychology, 24(1), 131–145.
Hertel, G., Neuhof, J., Theuer, T., & Kerr, N. L. (2000). Mood effects on cooperation in small groups: Does positive mood simply lead to more cooperation? Cognition & Emotion,, 14(4), 441–472.
Huntsinger, J. R., Isbell, L. M., & Clore, G. L. (2014). The affective control of thought: malleable, not fixed. Psychological Review, 121(4), 600–618.
Isen, A. M., & Baron, R. A. (1991). Positive affect as a factor in organizational-behavior. Research in Organizational Behavior, 13, 1–53.
Krauth-Gruber, S., & Ric, F. (2000). Affect and stereotypic thinking: a test of the mood-and-general-knowledge model. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 26(12), 1587–1597.
Kugler, T., Bornstein, G., Kocher, M. G., & Sutter, M. (2007). Trust between individuals and groups: groups are less trusting than individuals but just as trustworthy. Journal of Economic Psychology, 28(6), 646–657.
Lewicki, R. J., Tomlinson, E. C., & Gillespie, N. (2006). Models of interpersonal trust development: theoretical approaches, empirical evidence, and future directions. Journal of Management, 32(6), 991–1022.
Little, A. C., Robert, S. C., Jones, B. C., & DeBruine, L. M. (2012). The perception of attractiveness and trustworthiness in male faces affects hypothetical voting decision differently in wartime and peacetime scenarios. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 65(10), 2018–2032.
Lount Jr., & Robert, B. (2010). The impact of positive mood on trust in interpersonal and intergroup interactions. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 98(3), 420–433.
Mathes, E. W., & Kozak, G. (2008). The exchange of physical attractiveness for resource potential and commitment. Journal of Evolutionary Psychology, 6(1), 43–56.
Mayer, J. D., Gaschke, Y. N., Braverman, D. L., & Evans, T. W. (1992). Mood-congruent judgment is a general effect. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 63(1), 119–132.
McFarland, C., & Buehler, R. (2012). Negative moods and the motivated remembering of past selves: the role of implicit theories of personal stability. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 102, 242–263.
Mobius, M. M., & Rosenblat, T. S. (2006). Why beauty matters. The American Economic Review,, 222–235.
Noseworthy, T. J., Cotte, J., & Lee, S. H. M. (2011). The effects of ad context and gender on the identification of visually incongruent products. Journal of Consumer Research, 38(2), 358–375.
O’Doherty, J., Winston, J., Critchley, H., Perrett, D., Burt, D. M., & Dolan, R. J. (2003). Beauty in a smile: the role of medial orbitofrontal cortex in facial attractiveness. Neuropsychologia, 41(2), 147–155.
Ottati, V. C., & Deiger, M. (2002). Visual cues and the candidate evaluation process. In The social psychology of politics (pp. 75–87). Springer US.
Penton-Voak, I. S., & Perrett, D. I. (2000). Female preference for male faces changes cyclically: further evidence. Evolution and Human Behavior, 21(1), 39–48.
Penton-Voak, I. S., Pound, N., Little, A. C., & Perrett, D. (2005). Personality judgments from natural and composite facial images: More evidence for a ‘kernel of truth’ in social perception. Social Cognition, 24(5), 607–640.
Pillutla, M. M., Malhotra, D., & Murnighan, J. K. (2003). Attributions of trust and the calculus of reciprocity. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 39(5), 448–455.
Raghunathan, R., Pham, M. T., & Corfman, K. P. (2006). Informational properties of anxiety and sadness, and displaced coping. Journal of Consumer Research, 32(4), 596–601.
Rempel, J. K., Holmes, J. G., & Zanna, M. P. (1985). Trust in close relationships. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 49(1), 95–112.
Rhodes G. (2006). The evolutionary psychology of facial beauty. Annual Review of Psychology, 57(1), 199–226.
Rhodes, G., Yoshikawa, S., Clark, A., Lee, k., McKay, R., & Akamatsu, S. (2001). Attractiveness of facial averageness and symmetry in non-western cultures: In search of biologically based standards of beauty. Perception, 30, 611–625.
Schwarz, N. (1990). Feelings as information: informational and motivational functions of affective states. Guilford Press.
Schwarz, N. (2007). Attitude construction: evaluation in context. Social Cognition, 25(5), 638–656.
Smith, C. A., & Ellsworth, P. C. (1985). Patterns of cognitive appraisal in emotion. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 48, 813–838.
Smith, S. W., Atkin, C. K., Martell, D., Allen, R., & Hembroff, L. (2006). A social judgment theory approach to conducting formative research in a social norms campaign. Communication Theory, 16(1), 141–152.
Stepanova, E. V., & Strube, M. J. (2009). Making of a face: role of facial physiognomy, skin tone, and color presentation mode in evaluations of racial typicality. The Journal of Social Psychology, 149(1), 66–81.
Stirrat, M., & Perrett, D. I. (2010). Valid facial cues to cooperation and trust: male facial width and trustworthiness. Psychological Science, 21(3), 349–354.
Takahashi, C., Yamagishi, T., Tanida, S., Kiyonari, T., & Kanazawa, S. (2006). Attractiveness and cooperation in social exchange. Evolutionary Psychology, 4, 315–329.
Todorov, A., Pakrashi, M., & Oosterhof, N. N. (2009). Evaluating faces on trustworthiness after minimal time exposure. Social Cognition, 27(6), 813–833.
Verplaetse, J., Vanneste, S., & Braeckman, J. (2007). You can judge a book by its cover: a kernel of truth in predictive cheating detection. Evolution and Human Behavior, 28(4), 260–271.
Weber, J. M., Malhotra, D., & Murnighan, J. K. (2004). Normal acts of irrational trust: motivated attributions and the trust development process. Research in Organizational Behavior, 26, 75–101.
Wilson, R. K., & Eckel, C. C. (2006). Judging a book by its cover: Beauty and expectations in the trust game. Political Research Quarterly,, 59, 189–202.
Yamagishi, T., Kanazawa, S., Mashima, R., & Terai, S. (2005). Separating trust from cooperation in a dynamic relationship prisoner’s dilemma with variable dependence. Rationality and Society, 17(3), 275–308.
Zaatari, D., & Trivers, R. (2007). Fluctuating asymmetry and behavior in the ultimatum game in Jamaica. Evolution and Human Behavior, 28(4), 223–227.
Zebrowitz, L. A., & Montepare, J. M. (1992). Impressions of baby faced individuals across the life span. Developmental Psychology, 28, 1143–1143.
Zebrowitz, L. A., Voinescu, L., & Collins, M. A. (1996). “Wide-eyed” and “crooked-faced”: Determinants of perceived and real honesty across the life span. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 22, 1258–1269.
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the local ethics committee (Institute of Psychology, Chinese Academy of Science) and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
Conflict of Interest
Both of the authors have no conflict of interest.
The original version of this article was revised: The name of the second author was incorrectly listed as Mamin, when it is actually Min Ma.
An erratum to this article is available at https://doi.org/10.1007/s12144-016-9528-x.