14 things people can figure out about your personality just by looking at you (according to science)

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You can’t judge a book by its cover.

Except sometimes, you can.

According to several research studies, we’re actually pretty good at predicting what someone is like just by looking at them.

Read on to find out what traits we can accurately predict and what you might be communicating by the way you look.

1. Extroverted people smile more

Do you smile a lot?

Then you might be an extrovert.

According to research, 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.

2. 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.”

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3. 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 an agreeable personality.

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.

4. Your walking style

The way you walk can say a lot 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 introverted and polite.

5. Your eating habits reveal how you approach life

Do you eat your food fast or 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 impatient.
– Slow eaters prefer to be in control and know how to appreciate life.
– Adventurous eaters are more likely to step out of their comfort zone, and picky eaters are more likely to be neurotic.

6. People who look more positive in a selfie might be more open to experience

Looking happy in a selfie might seem like a desperate plea for attention, but surprisingly, looking positive and happy in a selfie might reveal other traits about your personality.

A study done in 2015 found that people could accurately predict someone’s openness to new experiences based on how positive they looked in a selfie photograph.

From the study itself:

“We also examined zero-acquaintance personality judgment and found that observers had moderate to strong agreement in their ratings of Big Five personality based on selfies. However, they could only accurately predict selfie owners’ degree of openness.”

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7. How smart you are

Yes, you can really tell how intelligent a man is (but not a woman) just by looking at him.

A study from the Czech Republic used static facial photographs of 40 men and women to test the relationship between measured IQ, perceived intelligence, and facial shape.

According to the study:

“Faces that are perceived as highly intelligent are rather prolonged with a broader distance between the eyes, a larger nose, a slight upturn to the corners of the mouth, and a sharper, pointing, less rounded chin.

“By contrast, the perception of lower intelligence is associated with broader, more rounded faces with eyes closer to each other, a shorter nose, declining corners of the mouth, and a rounded and massive chin.”

“By contrast, we found no correlation between morphological traits and real intelligence measured with IQ test, either in men or women.”

8. Whether or not you are aggressive

A 2009 Canadian study found that most women are able to accurately predict how aggressive men are.

Researchers also found a connection between men with larger facial width-to-height ratios and perceived aggression levels.

Furthermore, the size of someone’s jawline is often associated with physical strength. If you think about it, you probably already intuitively know this.

But did you know that a strong jaw also indicates a strong personality?

Yep, and it could have something to do with the fact that our jaw is the strongest joint in the body.

9. Who is a leader and who isn’t

People are good at telling why kind of leadership skills people have based on their photographs alone.

In a 2010 study, people were asked to look at headshots of employees in a company, and most were accurately able to guess who the people were in higher-level positions.

People who look confident and intelligent tend to be better leaders overall; or, at least they are perceived as being better leaders.

10. Your level of vulnerability

It’s been found that normal people are pretty bad at guessing how vulnerable someone is.

However, worryingly, this isn’t the same for criminals and psychopaths. A study in 2013 showed that criminals were able to determine how vulnerable someone was by the way they walked!


Stand tall, friends.

11. More agreeable people have larger eyes

A Chinese study found that “those who were higher on agreeableness had eyebrows that appeared to be “lifted up” and had smaller forehead spans (i.e., the distance between the eyebrows and the hairline). By contrast, lower levels of Agreeableness were associated with the opposite, that is, a jaw and eyebrows that were sunken.”

The study also found that:

– Round-eye people are more likely to wear their heart on their sleeves. They’re expressive and more likely to be impulsive.
– Wide-set eyes are indicative of an adventurous personality willing to trial new things.
– People with almond-shaped eyes are more likely to be passionate but grounded.
– Downward-slanting eyes can be the mark of a pessimist.

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12. How Religious You Might Be

Some studies have shown that people who dress neatly, were smiling a lot, and appeared to be more energetic than others were identified as being more religious.

They have found that participants were usually right about whether or not someone was religious in life.

13. Your posture

A person’s posture says a lot about his or her attitude. If they hold their head high, it means they are confident.

If they walk indecisively or cower, it may be a sign of low self-esteem.

Judith Orloff M.D says that when it comes to posture, look for if they hold their high in a confident manner, or if they walk indecisively or cower, which indicates low self-esteem.

14. 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 that they are 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.

So the next time you find yourself “judging a book by its cover”, remember that it’s not a terrible way to determine someone’s personality traits. We might not like that we can size someone up in such a short period of time, but that doesn’t mean that it is isn’t possible.

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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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