Investigating the influence of perceived face trustworthiness on decision making under uncertainty
Constantin REZLESCU, AXA Research Fellow
Support by the AXA Research Fund
TYPE OF SUPPORT
Trust at First Sight
What if your boss granted promotions based on facial appearance? Most likely you wouldn’t endorse such unethical behaviour. However, faces influence everybody, and you are no exception.
Working in the field of neuroeconomics, at the border between economics, psychology and neuroscience, Constantin Rezlescu has conducted several experiments to reveal to what extent one’s actions are affected by perceived facial trustworthiness. People seem to rely on face impressions even when they have objective information about a partner’s trustworthiness. These impressions are linked to basic facial structure, such that an individual with an untrustworthy face will be perceived more negatively even when smiling or wearing a suit and a tie. So next time you get a promotion, don’t believe it’s only your work that got you there!
Constantin is a PhD student at UCL working with Nick Chater and Brad Duchaine. Before joining the Psychology Department at UCL, he studied Economics in Romania and Business Administration in Germany and worked for a while in audit and corporate finance. An article read in an economic journal about neuroscience and psychology led him to pursue an M.Sc. in cognitive and decision sciences at UCL, in order to better understand the psychological factors underlying economic behaviour. Once immersed in the topic, Constantin found it hard to resist the temptation of testing some of his own ideas through a PhD. He chose to combine two of the most exciting research areas in cognitive psychology – decision making and face processing – and investigate the influence of face evaluations on economic decisions. In his limited spare time, he likes gliding, taking pictures and listening to the radio (he used to be a radio host).
What has your AXA fellowship brought you?
The chance to pursue my passion. Being financially independent means I can focus solely on my research. I am also happy to be a part of the very dynamic community of AXA fellows.
Could you describe your experiences with the AXA Research Fund community?
The AXA Talent Day brought together talented and dedicated researchers working on a wide range of topics related to decision sciences. I have greatly benefited from my discussions with other researchers and have high hopes of using the contacts I have made for future projects. Everyone seemed very committed to their work, which created a stimulating environment. Special thanks must go to the AXA team in charge of the Research Fund for their excellent organisation of the Talent Day and smooth communication in all matters relating to the fellowship. They were just great!. I am very grateful to them for the support.
Can you briefly describe what your research project is about?
My research interests lie at the border between economics, psychology and neuroscience. I study the influence of facial trustworthiness on economic decision making, with an aim to finding answers to questions such as: What makes a face trustworthy? Can face impressions predict behaviour? What is the neural basis of face evaluations? I (will) use behavioural, neuroimaging and brain stimulation techniques to investigate these issues.
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