What is Your Face Revealing?

If you were to take a selfie and post it to social media, what would the close-up image of your face reveal?

Would it say that you are an adrenaline junkie who loves staying active by taking risks? Or would it say that you are someone who would rather take the safe route by being cautious?

We all know the importance of a good first impression and how it can make or break your career, dating and social networks. I know, I know, we’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but researchers and psychologists are now finding that our face reveals much more than we think. They are finding out that our face is like peering into the window of our deepest and darkest secrets. Yup, I am talking about our personality, health and intelligence.

The 3 A’s of the Face

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 woman 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. Where as 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!

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Originally published at www.scienceofpeople.com on September 13, 2016.