Here’s What Physical Traits Can Reveal About Your Personality

According to research on over 2,000 Americans, it only takes 27 seconds for someone to establish a first impression. For most people, this is before they even speak. First impressions take in physical traits such as eye color, cheekbones, and posture and interpret them subconsciously.

Psychologists have researched how people interpret physical features. While these impressions aren’t set in stone, they allow psychologists to observe how we respond to others subconsciously. From your eye shape to your lips to your posture, your appearance might provide others with an insight into your personality. Find out how.

People With Wider Faces Are Viewed As Better Leaders

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Ethan Miller/Getty Images

In 2011, psychologists performed a study to determine which traits most frequently lead employees to judge someone as a great CEO. They found that the width of a CEO’s face influenced how others saw them. During the study, participants viewed people with rectangular faces as better leaders than people with long faces.

The researchers added that tall people with wide faces were viewed as the most “powerful.” This relationship only applied to men. That said, these results only indicate how others see CEOs and not how the CEOs actually perform in their leadership roles.

Strong Jawlines Equal Strength

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According to Psychology Life Well, many people subconsciously associate defined jawlines with a determined, tenacious personality. “I believe the connection comes from the fact that the jaw is the strongest joint in the body,” says author and psychologist Dr. Michele Barton.

Dr. Barton elaborated that the association could have ancient roots. Strong jawlines come with the ability to eat well and sustain life. It could also be associated with ferocity, since the more muscular the jawline, the stronger the bite.

Plump Lips Belong To Extroverts

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Unsplash/@coopery

Psychologist Vinita Mehta, who analyzed the Chinese study on facial features, noticed how lips impact peoples’ perspectives. “Higher levels of extroversion were related to more protruding nose and lips, a recessive chin, and masseter [jaw] muscles,” said Dr. Mehta. In other words, larger lips suggest that the person is extroverted.

If you have large lips, don’t take this the wrong way. Scientists from the University of California, Santa Barbara, reported that extroverts are often seen as attractive. However, other psychologists have criticized the methods that these researchers used.

What The Length Of Your Fingers Says About You

The diagram shows how index and ring finger lengths can be different on certain people.
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Pinterest/Linda C. Helt

In 2019, researchers found some interesting connections between a person’s personality and the lengths of their index and ring fingers.

If your index finger is shorter than your ring finger, you may be prone to verbal fights and a sharp tongue. Shorter index fingers can also indicate success in athletics. People with longer ring fingers have a better sense of direction, and men with shorter index fingers can be more aggressive.

People With Large Eyes Are Agreeable

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allOver/ullstein bild via Getty Images

In 2017, Chinese researchers released a study about how people interpret eye shapes. After testing over 800 participants, the researchers came to many conclusions. One is that large eyes convey that a person is agreeable.

In particular, researchers defined large eyes by eyebrows that appeared to be “lifted,” and by smaller foreheads. Sunken eyes and heavy lids categorized small eyes. If this isn’t you, don’t worry; the study revealed perceptions of many different shapes of eyes that are coming up soon.

Round Eyes Are Expressive

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Ritesh Shukla/Getty Images

According to the study, round-eyed people were seen as more expressive. Participants interpreted round-eyed people as wearing their hearts on their sleeves and occasionally being impulsive.

This interpretation could stem from the pupils. People with round eyes have more visible pupils. According to Psychology Today, when pupils grow bigger, it means that the person is interested in what’s happening. Larger eyes could make the pupils seem larger, which subconsciously translates into interested, excited, and emotional personalities. But that’s only a theory.

People With Wide-Set Eyes Are Ready For Adventure

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Pinterest/Artxed Ocsalb

In 2017, researchers had participants look at 3D replicas of faces. The participants would guess the personality based on facial appearance. According to one result, people with wide-set eyes are seen as adventurous and willing to try new things.

This result is backed by Alan Stevens, a psychologist who believes that physical traits indicate personality. Stevens claims that wide-set eyes display tolerance and openness to possible errors. However, other psychologists do not back up Stevens’ claims. Remember that these are perceptions, not rules.

Extroverts And Introverts Have Different Postures

A diagram demonstrates healthy posture (left) and poor posture (right) while sitting in a desk.
Flickr/Joe Loong
Flickr/Joe Loong

Your posture could tell others whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert. In 2015, researchers examined 100 peoples’ postures and how it related to their personality. They found that extroverts tend to stand up straight with their upper backs arched backward. Introverts tend to have a “flat back posture” or slightly hunched posture.

The researchers believed that peoples’ postures change around others. Since extroverts feel confident around people, they tend to stand up straight. Meanwhile, those who are timid around others tend to withdraw subconsciously.

Almond-Shaped Eyes Display Passion

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Unsplash/@quinten149

During the Chinese study about eye shape and personality, almond-shaped eyes factored into the results. According to the researchers, participants viewed those with almond-shaped eyes as passionate. People with these eyes are seen as both enthusiastic and grounded.

Oddly, this interpretation conflicts with traditional Chinese face reading. According to folklore, almond-shaped eyes indicate an aura of mystery, charm, and possibly secrecy. It goes to show that our perception of physical traits can vary by culture and generation.

Downward-Sloping Eyes Display Pessimism

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Unsplash/@felipegraphy

During the 2017 Chinese study, researchers found that people with downward-sloping eyes were viewed as pessimists. Participants responding to 3D facial recreations may have interpreted these types of eyes as looking downward, which is a universal symbol of discomfort, sadness, or nervousness.

However, this perception has changed throughout the generations. In the textbook Asian American Psychology: Current Perspectives, psychologists explain that eyes sloping downward at the outer corners were perceived as a beauty ideal in nineteenth-century Japan.

Larger Noses Show More Ambition

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In 2013, a study about the associations of nose shape was published in the Journal of Craniofacial Surgery. When researchers surveyed participants, the answers associated larger noses with higher ambition. It’s unclear where this subconscious relationship came from.

Perhaps this association stems from “following your nose,” the idea that animals will plunge headfirst into something that smells good. Even personality articles in Cosmopolitan relate large noses to drive and independence. More studies need to be done on physiological perceptions of peoples’ noses.

Extroverts Smile Wider

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OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images

In 2009, researchers wanted to see if people could guess whether someone was an introvert or extrovert after seeing someone’s face for 50 milliseconds. When participants viewed photos of people smiling widely, they were more likely to label them as an extrovert. Gentler, shier smiles were often associated with introverts.

The wider smile could stem from people feeling happier. According to research in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, acting like an extrovert makes people feel happier. Even introverts feel happier while acting like an extrovert for a while.

People With A Warm Skin Tone Likely Eat Healthy

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Unsplash/@sabrinamay

Researcher Carmen Lefevre of Northumbria University proposed that skin tone may indicate personality traits or habits. By skin tone, Lefevre doesn’t mean ethnicity; she means the color of skin undertones that are barely noticeable to most people. For instance, those with a warm, golden skin tone may eat a healthy diet.

The yellowish color comes from carotenoids, the pigment in fruits and vegetables that turns them red, orange, and yellow. “When we’ve eaten enough [carotenoids], they layer in the skin and dye it yellow,” says Lefevre.

Rosy Skin Comes From An Active Lifestyle

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Regardless of ethnicity, some people develop a rosy, pinkish undertone to their skin. According to researcher Lefevre, this tone could illustrate an active lifestyle. The pinkish color may stem from good blood circulation, which often results from frequent exercising.

For women, this skin tone could suggest that it’s their time of the month. During menstruation, the hormone estradiol guides blood vessels to the surface of the skin. This results in a rosy hue that hints at when a woman is ovulating.

People With Plump Cheeks May Become Depressed

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Unsplash/@fideletty

The plumpness of your cheeks could indicate how easily you get sick. According to researcher Benedict Jones of Glasgow University, people with more fat in their faces are more likely to experience depression and anxiety throughout their life. They also become sick more often.

Researchers aren’t sure why people with thinner faces are less likely to get sick. Jones told the BBC that facial fat could release inflammatory molecules that harm the body more. More research needs to be done on how facial fat impacts health.

Intelligent People May Have Long Faces

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Barbara Alper/Getty Images

In 2014, researchers asked 160 participants to look at photos of strangers and rate their IQ. The result, published in PLoS One, indicated how people perceive intelligence. According to the participants, people with long faces have a higher IQ. At least, that’s the perception.

Specifically, people with a long face, thinner chin, prolonged nose, and wide-set eyes fit the visual criteria of a “high-IQ” person. It’s unclear why this facial structure fits the stereotype for intelligent people. The researchers found no correlation between longer faces and IQ in people.

Say “Hello” In A Trustworthy Way

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Unsplash/@vmxhu

If you have a phone interview, mind the sound of your voice! It could define how trustworthy you are. According to a study in the Voice Neurocognition Laboratory, people judge a person’s trustworthiness based on voice alone. The tone mattered more than the natural sound of the voice.

“Trustworthy” voices varied by gender. According to the participants, male voices with a higher pitch were considered more warm and friendly. For women, “trustworthy” voices dropped toward the end of a word. Flat speaking was deemed to be suspicious across the board.

Iris Shape Impacts Personality

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The genes that control our irises also create our prefrontal cortex, which outlines much of our personality. Hence, Swedish researchers believed that a person’s eyes could literally be a window into their soul.

The differences lie in Fuch’s crypts, the lines radiating from the pupil. People with dense crypts are seen as warmhearted and trusting, and people with spaced crypts are more impulsive, according to the scientists. A previous study noted that mutations in the crypts may be linked to poor social skills.

Brown-Eyed People Are Trustworthy

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Unsplash/@jkcphotos

In 2013, psychologists conducted a study to learn how many people perceive eye colors. The research, published in PloS One, compared brown eyes to blue eyes. After asking participants to rate 80 photos, researchers learned that people with brown eyes are viewed as more trustworthy than blue eyes.

Oddly enough, the eye color relationship mattered more for men than for women. Psychologists still aren’t sure why people interpret brown eyes as more trustworthy, but either way, it’s another reason why brown eyes are so beautiful!

Narcissism Is In The Fashion

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Getty Images

In 2008, scientists asked participants which physical characteristics indicated a narcissist personality. Instead of showing a facial portrait, the researchers provided full-body photos of people. Participants pinpointed some signs of narcissism, including flashy clothing, expensive brands, overdone makeup and jewelry, and revealing shirts.

The study, published in the Journal of Research and Personality, suggested that narcissists may (consciously or subconsciously) dress according to their personality. Bright, expensive clothing draws more attention than drab clothing. However, the results could illustrate how people perceive narcissists rather than how they actually are.

Spotting Aggression In The Body

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Robert Laberge/Getty Images

In 2009, Canadian researchers asked women if they could predict aggression in men by showing them neutral expressions of male faces. The women’s predictions followed a pattern: men with wider faces and a larger width-to-height ratio were predicted to be more aggressive.

This prediction has some scientific backing. According to the scientific journal Evolution and Human Behavior, high width-to-height facial ratios are often a result of more testosterone in the body. The more testosterone, the more likely a person is to become aggressive. However, this clearly isn’t saying that everyone with a broad face is violent.

Find Narcissists Through Their Eyebrows

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In 2018, researchers wanted to see if participants could pinpoint narcissism through physical appearance. Specifically, participants assumed a person’s personality through the shape of their eyebrows. Those with distinct, bushy, well-groomed eyebrows were perceived to be more narcissistic, even to other narcissists.

Researchers found that this perception remained true even when the faces were turned upside-down. The scientists believe that eyebrows significantly shape our facial recognition. For instance, a 2003 study in Perception found that people struggle to recognize others without seeing eyebrows.

Average Faces Are More Beautiful (And More Kind)

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TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP via Getty Images

According to a 2006 study in Psychological Science, attractive people are more likely to be seen as trustworthy and friendly. This phenomenon has a term: the halo effect. But what defines a conventionally “attractive” person? Psychologist Coren Apicella says that attractive faces are average faces.

Psychologist Anthony Little explains that attractive faces are often symmetrical and have common traits. “Perhaps average faces are more attractive because they seem more familiar,” says Dr. Apicella. In short, an average face may be interpreted as friendly and trustworthy.

What Your Selfie Says About You

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If you’re a frequent selfie poster, beware. In 2015, researchers at Washington State University discovered that people posting selfies on social media are less liked. Participants perceived selfie-takers as more insecure, less successful, and less open to new experiences than those who do not post frequent selfies.

That said, people who posted photos taken by someone else–called a “posie”–received the opposite opinion. Viewers saw these users as more adventurous, self-confident, and better potential friends. Apparently, who holds the camera makes all the difference.

Your Profile Picture Says A Lot About You

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Robert Alexander/Getty Images

According to research, your profile photo on social media websites matters. Scientists from the University of Pennsylvania stated that people can predict personality traits “with robust accuracy” by analyzing a user’s profile picture. The difference stems from your expression and the quality of the photo itself.

According to surveyed participants, those who smile in photos are conscientious and aim to do the right thing. Those with colorful photos tend to get along with others, and users with high-quality photos are often open-minded. High-quality photos have better saturation, no blur, and stellar contrast.

Red Lipstick Actually Makes People Look Younger

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Unsplash/@sarahreneewolfe

Red lipstick truly is a timeless look–especially if you want to appear younger. In 2011, Pennsylvania researchers found that people wearing red lipstick were perceived as younger than they actually were. The dark red color contrasted with the darker, aging spots on the skin, which overshadowed aging skin.

Red lips come with some financial benefits, too. In 2013, French researchers tracked what influenced tips for waitresses in almost 450 transactions. Waitresses who wore red lipstick received 50% more tips than those who didn’t.

How Your Face Influences Your Name

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Flickr/Bill Smith
Flickr/Bill Smith

If someone says that a person “looks like a Karen,” this statement might have some backing. Scientists have found that facial structure influences the names given. Throughout eight experiments, participants correctly guessed the name of each person in the photo 40% of the time. Even when participants didn’t know the age, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status of the person, they often guessed correctly.

Researchers believe that the social expectations of a name can alter how we look. For instance, a person may dress or present themselves in a specific way based on the cultural associations of their name.

Light-Colored Eyes Help People Cope With Pain

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Getty Images

Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh found a correlation between pain tolerance and eye color. While observing 58 pregnant women, scientists found that women with lighter eyes tolerated the pain of childbirth better. “Lighter eyes” meant blue and green eyes, while “darker eyes” were brown and hazel.

The link between pain tolerance and eye color is likely genetic. According to Dr. Jari Louhelainen, a biomolecular scientist, at least 12 gene variations control a person’s eye color. Dark eye color comes from melanin, a pigment that may heighten pain in some people.

Brown-Eyed People React Quickly

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According to research, people with brown eyes may perform better at tennis than their blue-eyed friends. A study in Personality and Individual Differences found that brown eyes are the result of melanin. This pigment also controls the connections between brain cells.

People with more melanin send signals quickly through neurons. Hence, brown-eyed people could have faster reaction times than blue-eyed people. Of course, this is all relative; a blue-eyed master of tennis will always beat a brown-eyed beginner.

Find Mormons Through Their Glowing Skin

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Unsplash/@sharonmccutcheon

This one surprised readers as much as the psychologists testing it. Psychologists at Tufts University and the University of Toronto tested the “Mormon glow,” or the ability to locate a Mormon based on a “halo effect.” When the researchers showed judges photos of faces, the judges pinpointed the Mormons 60% of the time.

Researchers believe that the judges were subconsciously looking for healthy skin. Since Mormons don’t drink or smoke, and live ten years longer than most other people, they tend to have more youthful skin. According to the researchers, this manifests as a “glow.”