According to the Economist, Jefferson Duarte of Rice University in Houston, Texas, thinks that a person’s creditworthiness can be seen in their face:
The team recruited 25 Mechanical Turk workers and asked them to assess pictures of potential borrowers that had been posted on Prosper.com. In particular, they were asked to rate, on a scale of one to five, how trustworthy these people looked, and to estimate the percentage probability that each individual would repay a $100 loan. They were also asked to make several other assessments, such as the individual’s sex, race, age, attractiveness and obesity. The 25 results for each photograph were then averaged and analysed.
The researchers looked at 6,821 loan applications, 733 of which were successful. Their first finding was that the assessments of trustworthiness, and of likelihood to repay a loan, that were made by Mechanical Turk workers did indeed correlate with potential borrowers’ credit ratings based on their credit history. That continued to be so when the other variables, from beauty to race to obesity, were controlled for statistically. Shifty physiognomy, it seems, is independent of these things.
That shiftiness was also recognised by those whose money was actually at stake. People flagged as untrustworthy by the Mechanical Turks were less likely than others to be offered a loan at all. To have the same chance of getting one as those deemed most trustworthy they were required to pay an interest rate that was, on average, 1.82 percentage points higher, even when the effects of historical creditworthiness were statistically eliminated.
Gaydar exists, bullshit detectors exist: we really do know, deep down, quite a bit about the person we’re facing. (Assuming–yes, big assumption on my part–we know enough about ourselves to factor in our prejudices: sex, race, size, age and so on.) So follow your instincts. Listen to that inner voice. Don’t allow yourself to be talked out of your basic understanding of a person or situation. Some people really shouldn’t be trusted farther than you can throw them. Shifty bastards.
7 thoughts on “money in your face”
Gaydar is one of my favorite words. I don’t know why.
I find that different people fall in love with different vowel sounds. Clearly, you’re an A :)
I’m an O! Though I really like short As, too.
This reminds me of Paul Ekman’s work. I think I first read about him in Gladwell’s “Blink”. He’s the guy that has spent so much time researching facial expression/emotions. One thing he wondered is if facial expression show emotions across cultures – is it innate or is it a learned behavior. Turns out all cultures use similar facial expressions. Other researchers have looked at people who are born blind. They still have the same expressions! They are working on computer programs that can look at videos and know what you are experiencing emotionally. Big Brother kind of stuff. Here’s < HREF="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-PFqzYoKkCc" REL="nofollow">a video <>about it.>>I think I am not so good at this. Here is < HREF="http://www.cio.com/article/facial-expressions-test" REL="nofollow">a test<> which I totally got wrong. It’s about super fast micro expressions.>>People like the FBI have gone to Ekman to find out how to tell when people are lying. Here’s an article by Malcolm Gladwell that mentions him. < HREF="Down%20in%20part%20two." REL="nofollow">He started the ‘Diogenes Project’<> to tell when people are lying. Ekman’s mentor Tomkins was able to pick out homosexuals from pictures of a Papua New Guinea tribe.>>And here’s < HREF="http://www.cio.com/article/103250/How_to_Be_a_Mind_Reader_The_Art_of_Deciphering_Body_Language" REL="nofollow">an article<> applying this to managers/business.>>I would like to learn that FACS or the METTS thing. It’s got to be really useful in communicating better with people in person.>>Apparently there’s some tv show now that is loosely based on Ekman’s life. Here’s < HREF="http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2002/09/16/MN241376.DTL&type=science" REL="nofollow">one more article<>. At the end he mentions how having seen so much of liars has made him practice getting through the day without telling a single lie. That’s a whole ‘nother topic – but related – why do people lie so much?
< HREF="http://www.gladwell.com/2002/2002_08_05_a_face.htm" REL="nofollow">The link to the Gladwell article.<>>>Whew.
About blind people – actually a highly educated and successful blind businessman recently had an operation to restore the sight he lost as a very young child and he is currently having great difficulty interpreting ANY facial expressions at all and can’t even tell if it is a man or woman he is looking at in many cases. >>On a separate issue – I would buy a used car from you Nicola ANY day!! Despite your ability to fabricate your wonderful yarns and publish them – I believe wholeheartedly in your underlying and at times, painfully stinging HONESTY with a capital H!! In fact, I wonder if being dishonest and being able to write imaginative works of fiction have any overlapping skills at all because frankly I doubt that you would be all that capable of lying convincingly!! How are you at poker?
Yes Georgi, I think I read about that guy – interesting. But the blind thing I was referring to here was that blind people have on their faces the same expressions as we do — not about their ability to interpret expressions. Interpreting/reading facial expressions is a skill that can be learned.
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