Study Finds It Only Takes A Glance At Someone’s Face To Judge Their Character

The news story reprinted below discusses how scientists found that people make instantaneous character judgments based on the appearance of the face.

That is exactly what the science of Phrenology does. Phrenology claims that character, mental, personality and behavioral judgments can be made based on condition of the head of a human being.

And the face is of course part of the head.


It takes only a brief glance to assess others and to decide if they are beautiful or trustworthy, a study has found.

Eyes are judged as an instant indicator of youthful attractiveness, while being tanned is linked to masculinity, according to Dr Tom Hartley and colleagues at the University of York.

For the study, they took the features of 1,000 faces then asked people to judge them for various social traits.

Afterwards, they combined information about 65 physical attributes, such as eyebrow width, mouth area, and cheekbone position that showed 58 per cent of first impressions are based just on appearance.

The scientists produced cartoon faces containing certain features which, based on their theory, would create a predictable reaction from subjects — including, for example, those that were deemed to denote approachability.


The cartoon faces were then used for an online survey — which showed that the faces were judged by others just as they had predicted.

The researchers said: “These traits can be ‘read’ from a glimpse as brief as 100 milliseconds or less, and brain activity appears to track social traits, such as trustworthiness, even when no explicit evaluation is required.

“This finding suggests that trait judgments are first impressions that are made automatically, likely outside of conscious control.”

The scientists found that approachability is linked to the shape of the mouth.

They also discovered masculinity is linked to structural features of the face, particularly eyebrow height, cheek gradient, and eye gradient. A healthy or tanned skin tone is linked with masculinity.

And many of the features of the eye relate to youthful attractiveness.

Dr Hartley said it was important to understand how judgments are made, as they affect how people react to others socially.

This meant people should choose selfies to post online very carefully.

He added: “People have asked my advice before, and I say to think before you put photos online that could be attached to your CV, dating sites, or on social media.

“People said that we tend to judge a book by its cover, and it appears we do.”


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