Punishment of facial and linguistic signals

Hiroki Ozono, Motoki Watabe, Sakiko Yoshikawa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Trustworthiness can be judged through smiles, because smiling is difficult to fake. On the other hand, linguistic information, which is easier to fake, is also a signal of a person's trustworthiness; persons claiming to be trustworthy will probably be punished if their lie is exposed. We examined the punishments given to unfair persons who expressed their trustworthiness through linguistic information or facial expressions. In the experiment, all the participants played the Trust Game, wherein they were assigned as donors; 67 participants in Experiment 1 were exposed to their partner's linguistic information (responses to the questionnaire: trustworthy/neutral), and 100 participants in Experiment 2 were shown their partner's face (smile/no smile). They then decided the amount of endowment to give to their partners. After hearing their partner's decision (regarding fair/unfair allocation), they had an opportunity to punish an unfair partner and deduct money from the partner's share. Results show that liars caught through linguistic information were punished severely, but those caught through facial expressions were not. The different mechanisms between processing linguistic information and facial expressions were discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77-86
Number of pages10
JournalResearch in Social Psychology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Linguistic information
  • Punishment
  • Signaling
  • Smile
  • Trust

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