According to a new study published in the journal PLoS One, people tend to make money decisions based on instinct rather than fact. When choosing where to invest their money, for example, people are more likely to place their savings in the hands of trustees who are blessed with a trustworthy face.

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To test their theory, researchers gave participants a certain amount of money to invest in a trustee to be chosen among 40 faces modified via computer software, ranging from the least trustworthy to the most. Any amount the participants invested would be tripled and returned, but the amount to be returned to the participants was up to the trustees. Hence, they had to choose their trustees wisely.

After the experiment, researchers found that 13 out of 15 participants gave their money to the trustees with the most trustworthy-looking faces. In another experiment, researchers gave participants good and bad histories of the supposed trustees and found that even after hearing about what they had done in the past, trustees with trustworthy faces still got 6 percent more investments.

Dr. Chris Olivola from the University of Warwick's Warwick Business School says, "Trustees with good and bad histories benefitted equally from trustworthy-looking facial features." Even after being given inside information, participants still chose to trust their instincts and judge people by their looks.

Perhaps this study can serve as reminder to withhold judgment on people and be more careful with decisions, especially those involving money. Just because someone looks a certain way doesn’t mean it's an accurate gauge of his integrity. It always pays to do your research and base your decision at least partially on the facts at hand rather than just going with your gut.

(Photo by Tax Credits via Flickr Creative Commons)

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