The paper is open access.
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin Vol. 35, No. 12, 1661-1671, DOI: 10.1177/0146167209346309
Personality Judgments Based on Physical Appearance
Laura P. Naumann et al.
Despite the crucial role of physical appearance in forming first impressions, little research has examined the accuracy of personality impressions based on appearance alone. This study examined the accuracy of observers’ impressions on 10 personality traits based on full-body photographs using criterion measures based on self and peer reports. When targets’ posture and expression were constrained (standardized condition), observers’ judgments were accurate for extraversion, self-esteem, and religiosity. When targets were photographed with a spontaneous pose and facial expression (spontaneous condition), observers’ judgments were accurate for almost all of the traits examined. Lens model analyses demonstrated that both static cues (e.g., clothing style) and dynamic cues (e.g., facial expression, posture) offered valuable personality-relevant information. These results suggest that personality is manifested through both static and expressive channels of appearance, and observers use this information to form accurate judgments for a variety of traits.