Cooperation in interdependent relationships is based on reciprocity in repeated interactions. However, cooperation in one-shot relationships cannot be explained by reciprocity. Frank, Gilovich, & Regan (1993) argued that cooperative behavior in one-shot interactions can be adaptive if cooperators displayed particular signals and people were able to distinguish cooperators from non-cooperators by decoding these signals. We argue that attractiveness and facial expressiveness are signals of cooperators. We conducted an experiment to examine if these signals influence the detection accuracy of cooperative behavior. Our participants (blind to the target's behavior in a Trust Game) viewed 30-seconds video-clips. Each video-clip was comprised of a cooperator and a non-cooperator in a Trust Game. The participants judged which one of the pair gave more money to the other participant. We found that participants were able to detect cooperators with a higher accuracy than chance. Furthermore, participants rated male non-cooperators as more attractive than male cooperators, and rated cooperators more expressive than non-cooperators. Further analyses showed that attractiveness inhibited detection accuracy while facial expressiveness fostered it.
- Facial expression
- Trust game