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Perceived trustworthiness in economic and medical decision making

Younbyoung Chae, Ye-Seul Lee, Won-Mo Jung, Hi-Joon Park, Christian Wallraven


Background, aims and objectives: We investigated the effects of perceived trustworthiness based on doctors’ faces on economic and medical decisions in an experimental setting using expanded versions of Trust Games.

Methods: First, participants indicated how much they trusted the doctor on the screen in a game in which trust was measured by whether they made a monetary investment. Next, participants were exposed to a fixed level of pain and indicated the degree to which they trusted the doctor to treat their pain as measured by whether they took medicine or chose to be treated by the doctor.

Results: The choice probability of participants making the investment and seeking treatment from the doctor increased as the perceived trustworthiness of the doctor’s face increased. The effect of impressions of doctors’ trustworthiness was greater in medical decisions than in economic decisions.

Conclusion: Visual impressions of doctors’ trustworthiness affected both economic and medical decisions in Trust Games, reflecting a greater influence on participants in medical decision-making situations than in economic decision-making situations. The perceived trustworthiness of doctors may be related to the responsiveness of patients with respect to the effectiveness of treatments.


Doctor, doctor-patient relationship, economic decision-making, face, facial expressions, medical attire, medical decision-making, medicine, person-centered healthcare, trust-based decision-making, trustworthiness

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