Date Thesis Awarded


Access Type

Honors Thesis -- Access Restricted On-Campus Only

Degree Name

Bachelors of Arts (BA)




Joanna Schug

Committee Members

Christy Porter

Jaime Settle


Can you determine whether or not someone is trustworthy just from the expressions on their face? This study sought to explore the relation between facial mimicry of emotional expressions and trustworthy behavior in a trust game. Using the Facial Action Coding System (FACS), we examined whether participants mimicked specific action units (AUs) of facial expressions associated with the emotions of happiness and sadness, when asked to infer a target’s emotional state or a target’s age. We examined trustworthiness of participants using a trust game, in which participants were entrusted with a sum of money by another player, and chose to either split the endowment between themselves and the other player or to keep it for themselves. We found that trustworthy individuals display more mimicry of happiness, but not sadness, in conditions in which they are motivated to understand a target’s emotional state. No relation between trustworthiness and facial mimicry was found when participants were not motivated to infer the target’s emotional state.

On-Campus Access Only