[ Back to EurekAlert! ] Public release date: 10-Dec-2009
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Contact: Jim Gilden
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SAGE Publications

Personalities judged by physical appearance alone

Study on the accuracy of observers' impressions of 10 personality traits

Los Angeles, London, New Delhi, Singapore and Washington DC (Dec 10, 2009) Observers were able to accurately judge some aspects of a stranger's personality from looking at photographs, according to a study in the current issue of Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin (PSBP), the official monthly journal of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology. Self-esteem, ratings of extraversion and religiosity were correctly judged from physical appearance.

Researchers asked participants to assess the personalities of strangers based first on a photograph posed to the researchers' specifications and then on a photograph posed the way the subject chose. Those judgments were then compared with how the person and acquaintances rated that individual's personality. They found that while both poses provided participants with accurate cues about personality, the spontaneous pose showed more insight, including about the subject's agreeableness, emotional stability, openness, likability, and loneliness.

The study suggested that physical appearance alone can send signals about their true personality.

"As we predicted, physical appearance serves as a channel through which personality is manifested," write authors Laura P. Naumann, University of California, Berkeley, Simine Vazire, Washington University in St. Louis, Peter J. Rentfrow, University of Cambridge, Samuel D. Gosling, University of Texas at Austin. "By using full-body photographs and examining a broad range of traits, we identified domains of accuracy that have been overlooked, leading to the conclusion that physical appearance may play a more important role in personality judgment than previously thought."

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"Personality Judgments Based on Physical Appearance" published by SAGE in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin (PSPB) is available free of charge for a limited time at http://psp.sagepub.com/cgi/reprint/35/12/1661.

For over 30 years, the official monthly journal of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP), Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin (PSPB) has provided an international forum for the rapid dissemination of original empirical papers in all areas of personality and social psychology. SPSP counts more than 4,500 researchers, educators, and students in its membership worldwide. To contact the Executive Officer of SPSP, call David Dunning at (607) 255-6391, or email at spsp@cornell.edu. http://pspb.sagepub.com www.spsp.org

SAGE is a leading international publisher of journals, books, and electronic media for academic, educational, and professional markets. Since 1965, SAGE has helped inform and educate a global community of scholars, practitioners, researchers, and students spanning a wide range of subject areas including business, humanities, social sciences, and science, technology and medicine. An independent company, SAGE has principal offices in Los Angeles, London, New Delhi, Singapore and Washington DC. www.sagepublications.com



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