A person’s facial features can determine the way they are perceived in society.
Even when most of us think that a person’s facial features shouldn’t matter, we rely on them far more than we imagine, to decide things like how trustworthy, how friendly and how dependable others are. In fact, there is a lot of evidence that people in roles of leadership in business, politics, military and sports, for example, are often given those roles based on their facial features and not necessarily based on their ability.
Cognitive neuroscientists at New York University, USA conducted a series of experiments to determine how much a person’s facial structure can affect the way others perceive them. The study was published in the Personality and Social Psychology bulletin in June 2015.
Researchers found that happier-looking faces ranked higher for trustworthiness and friendliness. A wider face gives people the impression of competency, and increases the perception of physical strength. There is a known correlation between testosterone levels and facial width, which can also predict aggressiveness and physical strength.
A similar study at the University of York, UK examined the faces of over 1,000 people from online photos, and examined the way our facial features affect the way people think of us.
Dr. Christopher Olivola of Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business, at Princeton, USA, says that facial features can predict “significant social outcomes in domains as diverse as politics, law, business, and the military.”
His team examined the faces of the CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, and found that many of them had faces that were wide, thus considered more competent. Candidates with more competent looking faces were more often given the job, even when less competent-looking people performed better than them.
People with trustworthy and likeable faces generally find it easier to win elections, but an untrustworthy face means a greater likelihood of a criminal conviction. Having a trustworthy face also made it more likely that a person will attract investors or be offered a loan by a bank.
This facial bias is so strong, that researchers at the Warwick Business School, UK found that most people can correctly identify CEOs, sports coaches and military chiefs by their faces.
These and many other studies prove that facial features are a very significant factor in determining our perception of others, even though the perception may be completely wrong. These facial judgments are so strong, so ingrained, that it may actually change a person’s personality.
Take a look in the mirror. What are your facial features telling other people about you?