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Poster B40

Faces and their race and emotional expressions influence investment choices.

Poster Session B - Sunday, April 14, 2024, 8:00 – 10:00 am EDT, Sheraton Hall ABC

Golijeh Golarai1 (, Brian Knutson2, Maryam Hamedani3, Hazel Markus4, Jennifer Eberhardt5; 1Research Scientist, 2Stanford University, Psychology Department

Human faces relay social information and implicitly shape choices in a variety of scenarios. Prior research has begun investigating the influence of faces during experimental exchange tasks. However, it is unclear if facial features such as race or expression influence economic decisions across different levels of investment opportunities. We examined the impact of facial features of race and expression on viewers’ evaluation of and choice to invest in funds that systematically varied in their past performance. During each trial of an online investment task, 25 participants sequentially viewed information about investment funds, rated each fund’s potential for return, and decided whether or not to invest in the fund. Each fund was paired with a manager’s face that varied in race (Black or White) and expression (Neutral or Smiling). Participants rated each fund’s potential for return and chose whether to invest (Yes/No). We predicted that faces would influence investment decisions, and specifically (1) smiling versus neutral faces, and (2) own- versus other-race faces increase fund ratings and investment. We found that past performance influenced participants’ ratings and choice of investment as predicted. Meanwhile, facial expressions interacted with race and funds’ past performance in modulating investment decisions (P < 0.001), as positive expressions promoted investment in higher-performing, Black-led funds. These findings extend work on faces in the context of economic exchange tasks by indicating that facial features such as race and emotional expression influence choice to invest in financial funds. Future work will test the separate contributions of race and expression.

Topic Area: EMOTION & SOCIAL: Person perception


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April 13–16  |  2024