Appearance, including facial expression, posture, and clothing provide visual communications to observers.
-*How accurate are inferences made from these clues?
Sonoma State University’s Laura Naumann, with Simine Vazire then of Washington University in St. Louis, University of Cambridge’s Peter Rentfrow, and Samuel Gosling of University of Texas at Austin, investigated this question.
They asked volunteers to rate 10 personality traits, including Openness to Experience, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, Neuroticism.
These Big Five personality traits, proposed by Paul Costa and Robert McCrae of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, were evaluated in addition to likability, self-esteem, loneliness, religiosity, and political orientation for people pictured in full-body photographs.
These measures were compared with ratings by the photographed person and people acquainted with these individuals.
Observers’ judgments were accurate when they rated extraversion, self-esteem, and religiosity among people photographed in a “standardized” pose, and were correct for additional personality traits when judging photographs in spontaneous poses and facial expressions.
These findings suggest that candid photographs provide more accurate cues to some personality characteristics than planned poses.
Clothing style, a static cue, provided less information to raters, resulting in less accurate judgments of personality characteristics.
In contrast, facial expression and posture are dynamic cues that enabled observers to make more accurate judgments.
Observers make accurate inferences about some personality characteristics based on visual cues, according to these findings..
Novelist John Irving’s A Prayer for Owen Meany noted that “Things often are as they appear. First impressions matter,” just as these researchers concluded.
-*How accurate are your judgments of personality traits for people you don’t already know?
-*How accurate are other people’s inferences about your personality traits?
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