Facial Profiling: Analyzing the Personality of a Face

This article was originally posted on ScienceofPeople.com as What Our Faces Reveal About Our Personality.

Can you truly know someone’s personality just by looking at their face?

Yes, it’s called Facial Profiling.

A new Israeli startup will blow your mind. Faception, a private company founded in 2014, is a facial personality profiling company. They are a team of world-class experts in the field of computer vision, facial analysis, machine learning, psychology, technology and marketing. Their mission states:

“We believe that knowing and understanding people is key to improving communications and making the right decisions about the person right in front of you, or on the video screen. We also believe that our face reveals our personality. With the growth in social networks, smartphones and video cameras everywhere, facial images are readily available to use.”

Accurately reading faces can drastically help improve communication and help people make better decisions from first impressions. It could also revolutionize many industries. With their technology, one would be able to identify:

  • A professional poker player
  • Academic researcher
  • Introvert or extrovert
  • Pedophiles, and even white collar-criminals

One source even mentions that Faception has already signed a contract with the Homeland Security agency to help them better identify a terrorist. Now, this is the type of technology I would love to have in my back pocket!

Theory Behind this Masterpiece

Faception has declared that a person’s face can be used to predict personality and behavior. And this claim can be sectioned off in 2 main areas:

  1. According to social and life science research, personalities are affected by genes
  2. Our face is a reflection of our DNA

So according to social & life science, genes play a major role in determining key personality traits like social skills and learning. This is backed by a study that the University of Edinburgh conducted. The researchers at this institute studied over 800 sets of twins and found that genetics were more influential in shaping key traits than a person’s home environment and surroundings. The study tracked twins in the U.S., mostly over the age of 50 and used a series of questions to test how they perceived themselves and others. These questions included

  • “Are you influenced by people with strong opinions?”
  • “Are you disappointed about your achievements in life?”

By tracking their answers to these questions, the research team found that identical twins, who share the same DNA, were twice as likely to share traits compared with non-identical twins. Psychologists at the University have also stated,

“The stronger the genetic link, the more likely it is that these character traits are carried through a family.”

In another study, International Visible Trait Genetics (VisiGen) Consortium carried out a similar approach with over 10,000 twins by applying a genome-wide association (GWA) approach, with independent replication, finding DNA variants involved in facial shapes. Three of the five genes were thought to have roles in the arrangement of facial features, and their new research has confirmed their findings. Both of these studies tell us that genetic influence is the key to how successful a person will be in life and their ability to learn and develop.

Facial Mapping Process

Facial mapping has been a popular study of interest to researchers for over a thousand years and has reached a new high with Faception. Just watch what their technology can do:

First, Faception offers their technology to companies and allow them to embed the software to in their applications-> the application then runs on a cloud server-> local machine, video camera or any other scalable/ real-time device-> then conducts the image quality/ filter and analyzes the images-> once analyzed, the software provides a score and confidence level for various personality traits & types.

To show their technology off, they took the software to a poker tournament organized by the startup shares investors of Faception. During the tournament, Faception was able to predict two of four professional poker players that were among the event’s three finalists. Wow! Out of the 50 players they started out with, they were able to get the two finalists right.

Shai Gilboa, the chief executive at Faception, says that as they promote this technology to the world, there are some draw-backs, such as the artificial intelligence is trained to analyze images and it will only be as good it was trained on. Another could be that facial features can be accentuated due to facial hair, limiting the AI’s ability to make an accurate prediction. And it the data the computer is given is outdated, then the results will be inconclusive by the photo/person. But we look forward to how this company will progress in the future and how companies will use this technology.

Bonus: Social Media Picture Hacks for Personalities

In addition to use facial mapping to determine profession or likelihood to commit a crime, researchers and regular people alike are analyzing faces in social media pictures to determine someone’s personality characteristics.

You know that I am a huge fan of Big 5 personality test known as OCEAN. If you are joining us for the first or are not sure what I am referring to, these letters that stand for:

O- Openness

C- Contentiousness

E- Extroversion

A- Agreeableness

N- Neuroticism

If you haven’t done so already, be sure to take our free personality test and see which personalities you rate high/ low in.

Now that you know how you are rated in all 5, here are some thing that maybe reflected in your images:


If you rated high in Openness, you are someone who is curious and open-minded to new experiences and knowledge. You align with statements like, “I love adventure,” “I am imaginative,” and “I am the first to try new activities.” If you agree, these are your picture characteristics:

  • A neutral facial expression
  • You might wear glasses to be perceived as intellectual
  • Get close-up and personal with the camera lens
  • Use artistic & innovative qualities: straying away from blurry, natural/ colorful tones
  • Lean more towards sharper, high contrasted and saturated colors


If you rated high in Conscientiousness, you are described as organized, efficient and dependable. You align with statements like, “I have high self-discipline,” “I am very organized and always come prepared,” and “I like to know the plan rather than be spontaneous.” If agree, these are your picture characteristics:

  • You are rated the highest of the 5 traits to have more joy. So you smile big!
  • Stay further back from the camera lens (a smaller face ratio)
  • Add colorful, bright tones
  • Stay away from saturated, sharper, high in contrasted colors


If you rated high in Extroversion, you are known as the outgoing, energetic type. You align with statements like, “I am the life of the party,” “I don’t mind being the center of attention,” and, “I am usually the one to start a conversation with someone.” If you agree, these are your picture characteristics:

  • Be the beacon of light in your photos. Smile big!
  • Stay further back from the camera lens. A smaller face ratio to add friends
  • Add colorful, bright tones


If you rated high in Agreeableness, you are friendly and compassionate. You align with statements like, “I tend to trust people and give them the benefit of the doubt,” “I am extremely empathetic,” and, “I like to make other people feel at ease.” If you agree, these are your picture characteristics:

  • Display a warm smile throughout pictures
  • Bright and lively picture
  • Generally a little blurry around the edges


If you rated high in Neuroticism, you are sensitive and tend to be more nervous or a worrier. You align with statements like, “I stress out easily,” “I tend to be moody,” and “I am a worrier.” If you agree, these your characteristics (very similar to Openness):

  • A neutral facial expression and have a high presence of negative emotions
  • Seen as an introvert if you wear glasses
  • Get close-up and personal with the camera lens
  • Use artistic & innovative qualities, straying away from blurry, natural/ colorful tones
  • Lean more towards sharper, high contrasted, and saturated colors

If you want to be in control of your emotions and be noticed as more open and friendly, try these quick tips:

  • Smile big
  • Display bright colors that express your positive emotion
  • Keep an open posture and roll those shoulders back
  • Add some friends in your photos to show some social proof

What do you think? Does your personality and social media photos match up? All in all, remember to be authentic and your personality will shine for the whole world to see.

The Appearance Structure

Carmen Lefevre is a research associate at the University College of London. Her research focuses on the biological motives of facial structure and skin color and how they play a major role in our personality and behavioral traits.

One of the many ways Lefevre is addressing these traits is through our facial structure, known as the facial width-to-height ratio. In Carmen’s research, she has found that having a wider face produces high levels of testosterone, which is correlated with having aggressive and dominant characteristics. So what does this mean for both males and females? Well, for males with a higher width-to-height ratio, they are perceived as being physically more aggressive. Whereas, females are known to be more verbally aggressive.

Test out the facial width-to height ratio for yourself by going to a mirror and measuring your bone structure. What does it say about you? Does your facial width-to-height ratio signal dominance or aggression?

And speaking of facial width-to-height ratio, Lefevre conducted a study back in 2014 on 29 U.S. Presidents and how their width-to-height ratio could be linked to dominance, aggression and power–which are all important traits to have when making political decisions. She took 29 Presidents that had front facing photos and compared the distance from ear-to-ear (width) with the distance between the top part of the eyelids and the highest point of the upper lip (height). Once Lefevre and her team took the measurements, they had judges rate them in several factors like:

  • Moderation
  • Friendliness
  • Intellectualism
  • Machiavellianism
  • Poise & Polish
  • Achievement-driven
  • Attractiveness
  • And many more…

The results on these former Presidents extends to other research studies on the width-to-height ratio, which rated their dominant traits as highest in ambition and drive.

The Attractiveness Structure

While there is not significant research to back up attractiveness solely focusing on the facial structure, there have been recent studies to show that skin color is an important factor in the perception of being attracted to others.

In one study, Lefevre and her team took 15 of the 45 women who participated in their study, and combined 3 individual facial images, blending them together to make one facial baseline. Once the digital image was created, the team then took the faces and transformed the skin tone to a carotenoid color, which is associated with an excessive intake of carrots and other vegetables. The team then transformed more images to have deep melanin coloration, which gives off the effect of darker skin tones.

The results highly favored the participants with carotenoid skin coloration over melanin coloration, which is likely to be a cue of health. The research shows that it’s more attractive to have a glow to your skin verses getting a fake tan at the tanning booth.

The Acuteness Structure

There was one study that found we have an innate ability to read people’s intelligence just by looking at their faces.

At Charles University, 80 people–40 men and 40 women took part in the in-depth examination of IQ. Each person had to take photo of themselves with a neutral expression on their face. After the photos were established, the team at Charles U then placed the images on a computerized grid for the judges to make their assessment. It was found that faces with a broader distance between the eyes, nose and upper part of the lip were perceived to have a higher level of intelligence. Whereas the narrower the face, the less intelligent a person was perceived. The research found no significant correlation with facial features and the actual IQ of a person. However, both men and woman were able to accurately predict the intelligence of the men by their visual cues that are not explainable from the shape variability of a man’s face.

As you can see, there is so much more to ourselves than just appearance, skin tone and a brilliant mind. We can’t change our genes or who we are, but if you look in the mirror, you will see a perfectly designed miracle that has great significance in this world. So go forth and do great things!

Bonus: Take Your People Skills to the Next Level

Science of People can help you take your curiosity for human behavior to a new level. Check out our professional training program, People School.

Originally published at www.scienceofpeople.com on June 15, 2016.

Vanessa Van Edwards

Written by

I will teach you what makes people tick.

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