- People can guess the personality of others based on their appearance more accurately than you might think.
- Personality is expressed in static and expressive ways of appearance.
There is a general belief that one should not judge a person's personality by their appearance. A new study says that we do. In this study, more than 100 college students participated as subjects and judges of personality. The judges were asked to identify the personality of a particular subject just by looking at a photograph.
For the study, two photos of the subjects were taken. One was taken according to the researchers suggestions with the subject staring at the camera, not smiling, feet shoulder-width apart and hands at sides. The other photograph was a natural one. Evaluation of personality was done on the basis of self-reports and those given by people who knew them well.
Judges then evaluated the personality traits of the subject looking at the photograph. A total of 10 personality traits were evaluated for each subject. Judges were able to guess three of the personality traits by just looking at the first, posed, photo. This included extroversion, self-esteem, and religiosity. All other traits were accurately guessed by looking at the natural, spontaneous photo.
“People often come to a conclusion about the personality of a person even with very little information”, says researcher Sam Gosling of the University of Texas. The present study has shown that many of these are true as the judges were able to identify the traits with something as simple as a photograph, he adds. For example, extroverts tend to smile, stand in energetic ways, and look healthy, neat, and stylish.
Thus the study shows that personality of a person is expressed in both static and expressive ways of appearance, both of which are used by the observers to judge the personality traits, conclude researchers.