Are brown eyes more trustworthy than baby blues?

Research examines how eye color reflects perception of trust

By Kim Carollo
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Looking into someone's eyes may offer insight into whether they can be trusted, and according to new research, this perception may have something to do with eye color.

A study published in the journal PLOS ONE found that brown-eyed people are believed to be more trustworthy than blue-eyed people.

However, eye color doesn't paint the whole picture of what trustworthiness looks like. 

--A new study has found brown-eyed faces, like Hugh Jackman's, are perceived as more trustworthy.

"It is not eye color, but face shape associated with eye color that causes the higher perception of trustworthiness," wrote lead study author Karel Kleisner of Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic, in an email to 

Kleisner and his colleagues asked more than 200 students to rate how much they could trust a series of 80 male and female faces with either brown or blue eyes.

Subjects rated the brown-eyed faces as being more trustworthy, but that wasn't the end of the story.

To demonstrate that eye color isn't the final answer when it comes to trustworthiness, the researchers then asked a second group of students to rate the same faces, but with the eye colors digitally switched.

The faces rated the most trustworthy by the first group received similar ratings from the second group, even though the eyes were now different colors. The authors surmised that some other characteristic must play a role.

In general, faces judged as more trustworthy are narrower, have bigger eyes, and broader mouths with upward-oriented lips. Kleisner explained that these are characteristics associated with brown eyes.

On the other hand, blue eyes tend to be smaller, meaning many blue-eyed faces are pointier and longer with eyebrows that are far apart.

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