Honesty and Fairness May Be Linked to Nonverbal Cues

Assistant professor Piercarlo Valdesolo outlines new findings for Scientific American online

What body language indicates “trustworthy?” Piercarlo Valdesolo, assistant professor of psychology, explores this question in a Scientific American article that landed in the magazine’s Jan. 8 online issue. In some cases, writes Valdesolo, research shows that when it comes to deciding who to trust, “our first impressions can be quite accurate.” In fact, he says, “personality traits such as honesty and fairness are linked to specific kinds of nonverbal cues, and humans can pick up on these signals during interactions.”

These findings come from new research led by David DeSteno at Northeastern University. DeSteno and his research colleagues say that humans are like robots, “programmed to move in particular ways if we are honest. To know who to trust, one simply needs to be able to read the patterns.”

Read the full article: Psychologists Uncover Hidden Signals of Trust.

Piercarlo Valdesolo is an assistant professor of psychology, and co-authored with DeSteno the 2011 book, Out of Character: Surprising Truths About the Liar, Cheat, Sinner (and Saint) Lurking in All of Us. He also directs the Moral Emotions and Trust Lab (MEATLab) at CMC, leading students in research on the psychological mechanisms underlying all things related to trust, cooperation, and moral judgment, and how emotions influence behaviors and decisions.

He received his bachelor’s degree from Amherst College, and his master’s and doctorate degrees from Northeastern University. His interests include the influence of emotion on social judgment and moral decision-making, the determinants of institutional corruption, and the role of conflicts of interest in ethical decision-making. He is a blogger for Scientific American and Psychology Today.