Men 'can identify a cheating woman by looking at her face'
Published 22/09/2015 | 18:29
One of the major qualms of Internet daters is that it's easy to be duped by staged or edited profile pictures.
The idea that the camera never lies simply isn't true: when you finally meet up with your prospective partner in person, that they will look little, if anything like they do in their photograph.
However, scientists at the University of Western Australia have published research which suggests that men can successfully judge the character of women simply by looking at one small photograph of her face.
Participants in the study, led by Dr Samantha Leivers, were given 17 cards, each with two photographs of separate women on them – matched for age and ethnicity. One of these women was of unshakeable fidelity, and the other had, in the past, been caught cheating on her existing partner.
After being asked to identify the heartbreakers on each card, researchers found that the majority of participants guessed correctly, with nothing to go on other than the features in the photographs.
55 to 59 per cent of men guessed correctly every time, a small difference described by Dr Leivers as "statistically significant but modest".
"We don't expect them to be 100pc accurate when they are literally just looking at someone's face for a few seconds," Dr Leivers said. "But the fact that they're showing any accuracy from this limited information at all is pretty cool."
The researchers believe that the way people hold their faces may be accurate indicators of emotional and empathetic ability. "For example," reads the study, "emotion expression has been found to influence a number of trait judgments including perceived trustworthiness."
So despite showing neutral expressions, perhaps the subtle differences in the female subjects' facial expressions betrayed their true natures. Dr Leiver and her team plan to follow up this study by further researching a link between expressions and emotions.
"More research is needed to determine the visual cues that men use to make their judgments of faithfulness, including emotion expression and other face gesture clues," the researchers said.
"However, we know for the first time that men's judgments of faithfulness from images of women can contain a kernel of truth when they are able to directly compare images in a forced choice task."