13 small habits that reveal a lot about your personality (according to psychology)

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Stephen Covey once said, “Our character is basically a composite of our habits.”

No two people are completely alike, and more often than not, it’s the small habits that we form in the course of our life that make us different from those around us. 

You can tell a lot about someone from their handshake, their shoe choices, or even the way they walk.

Don’t believe me?

Check out what behavioral experts and psychology studies have to say about 12 small habits that reveal your personality.

1. Your shoe choice

A study published in the Journal of Research in Personality suggests that you can read someone’s personality through their choice of shoes.

The study asked participants to complete a questionnaire on their personality traits and then take a photo of their shoes.

After that, they asked another group of people to look at these photos and describe the personality of the wearer.

Surprisingly, most people were pretty accurate with their guesses!

The results of the study found that people who wear comfortable shoes tended to have agreeable personalities.

People who wore ankle boots were more likely to be aggressive.

Wearing uncomfortable shoes may show that you’re a calm person.

Those who had well-maintained footwear were more likely to be clingy and anxious.

2. Your handshake

Regardless of how you feel about handshaking – the handshake can speak volumes about you.

A 2000 University of Alabama study found that a person’s handshake is consistent over time and related to aspects of personality.

Those with a firm handshake tend to be more extroverted, open to experience, and less neurotic.

People with a less firm handshake tend to make somewhat of a poorer impression.

The study also found that women who had a more firm handshake tended to be more liberal, intellectual, and open to experiences.

3. Your email etiquette

How you handle emails can say a lot about your personality.

Psychologist Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic says that text-mining studies have found associations between certain keywords and major traits.

Narcissists are more likely to use the words “I”, me”, and “mine” more frequently.

If someone doesn’t have typos, it shows they’re conscientious and a perfectionist.

And poor grammar may indicate a lower level of IQ and academic intelligence. Interestingly, while long emails may show thoroughness, it can also show a degree of neediness.

4. Your walking style

The way you walk can say about who you are, according to body language expert Patti Wood.

If you walk quickly with your weight forward, you’re more likely to be logical and organized. You may also be serious and competitive.

If you walk with your shoulders pulled back and your head held high, you tend to be charismatic and socially adept (but you may also hog the spotlight).

Furthermore, if you’re light on your toes when you walk and you tend to glue your eyes on the floor, you might be more likely to be introverted and polite.

5. Your eating habits reveal how you approach life

Do you eat your food fast and slow?

Believe it or not, it can reveal a lot about your personality.

The Huffington Post interviewed experts on food-related behaviors and this is what they found:

– Fast eaters are more likely to be ambitious, goal-oriented, open to experiences and impateitn.
– Slow eaters prefer to be in control and know how to appreciate life.
– Adventurous eaters are more likely to step out of their comfortable zone, and picky eaters are more likely to be neurotic.

6. Your punctuality

According to a study published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology, our ability to be on time for meetings can reveal if we have Type ‘A’ or Type ‘B” personalities.

Type A people tend to be more aggressive and goal orientated, and Type B’s are more laid back and happy-go-lucky.

So if you’re late to an appointment, you’re more likely to be a B type. If you hate the idea of being late, you might be more of an A-type personality.

7. Extroverted people smile more

People who are extroverted tend to smile more naturally, while people who are introverted have to try to maintain a smile for public situations.

Evidence of this has shown up in studies where participants looked at photographs of people smiling and determined which ones were more likely extroverts based on their smiles.

8. Your spending habits

Are you an impulsive spender? Or do you take your time with every purchase?

While you may not have thought much about your spending habits, it can actually say a lot about who you are.

Impulsive spenders tend to be spontaneous, hedonistic, and live in the moment, while spenders who take their time are more rational, patient, and prefer to observe the whole picture.

Furthermore, if you spend money on things like fancy dinners, vacations and spa visits, it means you like to treat yourself well, while if you only spend money on basic needs you tend to be more down-to-earth and practical.

9. Your posture

The way you sit or stand reveals more than you might think.

Do you sway while you stand? According to Psychologist Dr. Hingorany, you may be an indecisive thinker and have high levels of anxiety.

A humpback? He says that someone with a humpback “indicates a person with low self-confidence who is harboring conflicts and sadness.”

He goes on further to say that if someone’s head is carried forward, then they might have a “hyper personality” that is in information overload.

Judith Orloff M.D says that if you hold your head high with your shoulders back, then you’ll appear confident and have high self-esteem.

“With your neck holding your head high, you’ll also be more likely to align your posture. Keep your back straight and your shoulders from lurching forward to add to the impression that you’re confident and in control of your feelings.”

10. Your physical movements

Image credit: Shutterstock – By Dmytro Zinkevych

More than words, people express their feelings through movements.

For example, we lean toward those we like and away from those we don’t.

“If they’re leaning in, if their hands are out and open, palms facing up, that’s a good sign that they are connecting with you,” says Evy Poumpouras, a former Secret Service special agent.

If you have observed that the person is leaning away, it means he or she is putting up a wall.

Another movement to notice is the crossing of arms or legs. If you see a person doing this, it suggests defensiveness, anger, or self-protection.

Evy Poumpouras says that “if someone is leaning in and all of a sudden you say something and their arms crossed, now I know I said something that this person didn’t like.”

On the other hand, hiding one’s hands means hiding something.

But if you see them lip biting or cuticle picking, it means they are trying to soothe themselves under pressure or in an awkward situation.

11. The way you roll toilet paper

What is the right way to hang your toilet paper?

Everybody seems to have a different opinion, and according to therapist Gilda Carle, PhD, you can learn about a person’s personality through their preference on this matter.

She asked 2,000 men and women whether they hang their toilet paper in the overhand or underhand position, while also asking them on a scale of 1 to 10 how assertive they are.

Dr. Carle’s survey found that those who prefer the overhand method were more likely to be dominant, while the underhanders were more likely to be submissive.

12. Narcissists tend to wear brighter clothing and have more accessories

Woman at cafe with characteristics of a strong woman

A study done in 2009 predicted the level of someone’s narcissistic ways just by the way a person looked in a full-body picture. Certain attributes led the participants to these conclusions including whether or not a person had bright clothing on, wore makeup and accessories, and whether or not they were smiling a lot.

The researchers write: “These results suggest that narcissists do seem to alter their appearance (consciously or unconsciously) in a way that reflects their appearance-oriented motives.”

13. Nail-biters are perfectionists

Do you pick your skin or bite your nails? According to psychologists, this is called “body-focused repetitive behaviors”.

A 2015 study analyzed people’s personalities and what tics they had.

They found that people who compulsively bit their nails tended toward perfectionism, and they bit their nails to soothe boredom and dissatisfaction.

Because it feels better to do something rather than nothing, biting nails can be rather comforting.

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Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 15 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. Check out my latest book on the Hidden Secrets of Buddhism and How it Saved My Life. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Facebook or Twitter.

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