Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Never judge a book by its cover - but if you do you might be right

Despite advice to 'never judge a book by its cover' people often judge by first impressions, whether it is a profile picture on a social-networking site or at a job interview. Now new research by psychologists at the University of Texas suggests that these judgements can be surprisingly accurate. The psychologists showed the participants in the study photographs of 123 subjects they had never met before. Some of the photographs were in a controlled, 'neutral' pose and others were more natural. The accuracy of the participants' judgements were compared to the self-assessments of the subjects and assesments of the subjects by their three closest friends. Even in the neutral pose the participants could accurately judge some major personality traits including extraversion and self esteem, although most traits were hard to judge from these photographs. However, when the participants saw the natural photographs their judgements were accurate for nine out of the ten personality traits they were asked about. Extraverts smiled more, stood in energetic and less tense ways and looked healthy, neat and stylish. People who were more open to experience were less likely to look healthy and neat but were more likely to have a distinctive style of dress. Men who had a neat and tidy appearance were seen as more conscientious.

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