Post by Bob Officer
On Tue, 07 Oct 2014 12:00:23 -0700, in misc.health.alternative, Bob
Personalities Accurately Judged by Physical Appearance Alone
ScienceDaily (Dec. 11, 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
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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The above story is reprinted from materials provided by SAGE
Publications, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS.
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information, please contact the source cited above.
Naumann et al. Personality Judgments Based on Physical Appearance.
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 2009; 35 (12): 1661 DOI:
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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Illustration in a 19th century book about Physiognomy.
Physiognomy (from the Gk. physis meaning "nature" and gnomon meaning
"judge" or "interpreter") is the assessment of a person's character or
personality from his outer appearance, especially the face. The term
physiognomy can also refer to the general appearance of a person,
object or terrain, without reference to its implied characteristics.
Credence of such study has varied from time to time. The practice was
well-accepted by the ancient Greek philosophers, but fell into
disrepute in the Middle Ages when practised by vagabonds and
mountebanks. It was then revived and popularised by Johann Kaspar
Lavater before falling from favour again in the late 19th century.
Physiognomy as understood in the past meets the contemporary
definition of a pseudoscience.
There is no clear evidence that physiognomy works.
Physiognomy is also sometimes referred to as anthroposcopy, though the
expression was more common in the 19th century when the word
1 Ancient physiognomy
2 Middle Ages
3 Modern physiognomy
3.2 Period of popularity
3.3 Modern science
4 Modern usage
5 Related disciplines
6.2 Further reading
7 External links
For more details on this topic, see Physiognomonics#Ancient
physiognomy before the Physiognomonics.
Notions of the relationship between an individual's outward appearance
and inner character are historically ancient, and occasionally appear
in early Greek poetry. The first indications of a developed
physiognomic theory appear in 5th century BC Athens, with the works of
Zopyrus (who was featured in a dialogue by Phaedo of Elis), who was
said to be an expert in the art. By the 4th century BC, the
philosopher Aristotle makes frequent reference to theory and
literature concerning the relationship of appearance to character.
Aristotle was apparently receptive to such an idea, as evidenced by a
passage in his Prior Analytics:
It is possible to infer character from features, if it is granted that
the body and the soul are changed together by the natural affections:
I say 'natural', for though perhaps by learning music a man has made
some change in his soul, this is not one of those affections natural
to us; rather I refer to passions and desires when I speak of natural
emotions. If then this were granted and also that for each change
there is a corresponding sign, and we could state the affection and
sign proper to each kind of animal, we shall be able to infer
character from features.
--Prior Analytics 2.27 (Trans. A. J. Jenkinson)
The first systematic physiognomic treatise to survive to the present
day is a slim volume, Physiognomonica (English: Physiognomonics),
ascribed to Aristotle (but probably of his "school" rather than
created by the philosopher himself). The volume is divided into two
parts, conjectured to have been originally two separate works. The
first section discusses arguments drawn from nature or other races,
and concentrates on the concept of human behavior. The second section
focuses on animal behavior, dividing the animal kingdom into male and
female types. From these are deduced correspondences between human
form and character.
After Aristotle, the major extant works in physiognomy are:
Polemo of Laodicea, de Physiognomonia (2nd century AD), in Greek
Adamantius the Sophist, Physiognomonica (4th century), in Greek
An anonymous Latin author de Phsiognomonia (ca. 4th century)
Ancient Greek mathematician, astronomer and scientist Pythagoras,
believed by some to be the originator of physiognomics, once rejected
a prospective follower named Cylon simply because of his appearance,
which Pythagoras deemed indicative of bad character
Della Porta, Giambattista: De humana physiognomonia libri IIII (Vico
Equense: Apud Iosephum Cacchium, 1586).
The term was common in Middle English, often written as fisnamy or
visnomy (as in the Tale of Beryn, a 15th-century sequel to the
Canterbury Tales: "I knowe wele by thy fisnamy, thy kynd it were to
Physiognomy's validity was once widely accepted, and it was taught in
universities until the time of Henry VIII of England, who outlawed it
(along with "Palmestrye") in 1531. Around this time, scholastic
leaders settled on the more erudite Greek form 'physiognomy' and began
to discourage the whole concept of 'fisnamy'.
The great inventor, scientist and artist, Leonardo da Vinci, was a
critic of physiognomy in the early 16th century he said 'I do not
concern myself with false physiognomy...there is no truth in them and
this can be proven because these chimeras have no scientific
foundation' He did however believe that lines caused by facial
expressions could indicate personality traits i.e. 'those who have
deep and noticeable lines between the eyebrows are irascible'
Johann Kaspar Lavater.
The principal promoter of physiognomy in modern times was the Swiss
pastor Johann Kaspar Lavater (1741-1801) who was briefly a friend of
Goethe. Lavater's essays on physiognomy were first published in German
in 1772 and gained great popularity. These influential essays were
translated into French and English. The two principal sources from
which Lavater found 'confirmation' of his ideas were the writings of
the Italian Giambattista Della Porta (1535-1615) and the English
physician-philosopher Sir Thomas Browne (1605-1682), whose Religio
Medici discusses the possibility of the discernment of inner qualities
from the outer appearance of the face, thus:
there is surely a Physiognomy, which those experienced and Master
Mendicants observe... For there are mystically in our faces certain
Characters that carry in them the motto of our Souls, wherein he that
cannot read A.B.C. may read our natures.
-- R.M. part 2:2
Late in his life Browne affirmed his physiognomical beliefs, writing
in his Christian Morals (circa 1675):
Sir Thomas Browne.
Since the Brow speaks often true, since Eyes and Noses have Tongues,
and the countenance proclaims the heart and inclinations; let
observation so far instruct thee in Physiognomical lines....we often
observe that Men do most act those Creatures, whose constitution,
parts, and complexion do most predominate in their mixtures. This is a
corner-stone in Physiognomy... there are therefore Provincial Faces,
National Lips and Noses, which testify not only the Natures of those
Countries, but of those which have them elsewhere.
-- C.M. Part 2 section 9
Sir Thomas Browne is also credited with the first usage of the word
caricature in the English language, whence much of physiognomy
movement's pseudo-learning attempted to entrench itself by
Browne possessed several of the writings of the Italian Giambattista
Della Porta including his Of Celestial Physiognomy, which argued that
it was not the stars but a person's temperament that influences facial
appearance and character. In his book De humana physiognomia (1586),
Porta used woodcuts of animals to illustrate human characteristics.
His works are well represented in the Library of Sir Thomas Browne;
both men sustained a belief in the doctrine of signatures -- that is,
the belief that the physical structures of nature such as a plant's
roots, stem and flower, were indicative keys (or signatures) to their
Lavater received mixed reactions from scientists, some accepting his
research with other criticizing it. For example, the harshest
critic was scientist Georg Christoph Lichtenberg said that Pathognomy,
discovering the character by observing the behaviour, was more
effective. Writer Hannah More complained to Horace Walpole that "In
vain do we boast (...) that philosophy had broken down all the
strongholds of prejudice, ignorance, and superstition; and yet, at
this very time (...) Lavater's physiognomy books sell at fifteen
guineas a set."
Period of popularity
The popularity of physiognomy grew throughout the 18th century and
into the 19th century, and it was discussed seriously by academics,
who saw a lot of potential in it. Many European novelists used
physiognomy in the descriptions of their characters. notably
Balzac, Chaucer and portrait artists, such as Joseph Ducreux;
meanwhile, the 'Norwich connection' to physiognomy developed in the
writings of Amelia Opie and travelling linguist George Borrow. A host
of other 19th century English authors were influenced by the idea,
notably evident in the detailed physiognomic descriptions of
characters in the novels of Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy and
Physiognomy is a central, implicit assumption underlying the plot of
Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray. In 19th century American
literature, physiognomy figures prominently in the short stories of
Edgar Allan Poe
Phrenology was also considered a form of physiognomy. It was created
around 1800 by German physician Franz Joseph Gall and Johann
Spurzheim, and was widely popular in the 19th century in Europe and
the United States. In the U.S., physician James W. Redfield published
his Comparative Physiognomy in 1852, illustrating with 330 engravings
the "Resemblances between Men and Animals." He finds these in
appearance and (often metaphorically) character, e.g. Germans to
Lions, Negroes to Elephants and Fishes, Chinamen to Hogs, Yankees to
Bears, Jews to Goats.
During the late 19th century, English psychometrician Sir Francis
Galton attempted to define physiognomic characteristics of health,
disease, beauty, and criminality, via a method of composite
photography.  Galton's process involved the photographic
superimposition of two or more faces by multiple exposures. After
averaging together photographs of violent criminals, he found that the
composite appeared "more respectable" than any of the faces comprising
it; this was likely due to the irregularities of the skin across the
constituent images being averaged out in the final blend. With the
advent of computer technology during the early 1990s, Galton's
composite technique has been adopted and greatly improved using
computer graphics software .
In the late 19th century it became associated with phrenology and
consequently discredited and rejected. Modern scientists now
consider physiognomy a form of pseudoscience.
A February 2009 article in the New Scientist reported that physiognomy
is living a small revival, with research papers trying to find links
between personality traits and facial traits. There is still no
conclusive evidence on any clear link.
Some alternative theories have been proposed. For example, our
brain tends to extrapolate emotions from facial expressions, and
physiognomy would only be an overgeneralization of this skill.
Also, if one classifies a person as untrustworthy due to their face,
and treats them as such, that person will eventually behave in an
Practitioners of the personality type theory socionics use physiognomy
as a personality identification technique.
There is some evidence that people can detect male homosexuality by
looking at facial characteristics.
A physiognomist named Yoshito Mizuno was employed from 1936 to 1945 by
the Imperial Japanese Naval Aeronautics Department, examining
candidates for the Naval Air Corps, after - to their surprise -
Admiral Yamamoto's staff discovered that he could predict with over
80% accuracy the qualifications of candidates to become successful
In 2011, the South Korean news agency Yonhap, published a
physiognomical analysis of the heir of North Korea, future leader Kim
Somatotype and Constitutional Psychology
^ a b c d e f g h How your looks betray your personality - New
Scientist (Magazine issue 2695) - 11 February 2009: Roger Highfield,
Richard Wiseman, and Rob Jenkins
^ a b c d e f Roy Porter (2003), "Marginalized practices", The
Cambridge History of Science: Eighteenth-century science, The
Cambridge History of Science, 4 (illustrated ed.), Cambridge
University Press, pp. 495-497, ISBN 978-0-521-57243-9, "Although we
may now bracket physiognomy with Mesmerism as discredited or even
laughable belief, many eighteenth-century writers referred to it in
all seriousness as a useful science with a long history(...) Although
many modern historians belittle physiognomy as a pseudoscience, at the
end of the eighteenth century it was not merely a popular fad but also
the subject of intense academic debate about the promises it held for
^ Riedweg, Christop, Pythagoras: His Life,Teaching, and Influence.
^ 22 Henry VIII cap. 12, sect. 4
^ a b Leonardo on Art and the Artist By Leonardo da Vinci The Orion
Press, New York, 1961 p144 Online 
^ Letter to Horace Walpole of September 1788, reproduced in W.S.
Lewis, The Yale Edition of Horace Walpole's Correspondence, 48 vols.
(London: oxford University Press, 1937-83), 31:279-81 (quotation at p.
280). Citation taken from Roy Porter's The Cambridge History of
Science: Eighteenth-century science.
^ Auguste Elfriede Christa Canitz, Gernot Rudolf Wieland, ed. (1999),
"Another look at an Old 'Science': Chaucer's Pilgrims and
Physiognomy", From Arabye to Engelond: medieval studies in honour of
Mahmoud Manzalaoui on his 75th birthday, Actexpress Series, University
of Ottawa Press, pp. 93-110, ISBN 978-0-7766-0517-3
^ Erik Grayson. "Weird Science, Weirder Unity: Phrenology and
Physiognomy in Edgar Allan Poe" Mode 1 (2005): 56-77. Also online.
^ "Comparative Physiognomy or Resemblances between Men and Animals:
Illustrated" by Jam. W. Redfield Full text on Google Books
^ Benson, P., & Perrett, D. (1991). Computer averaging and
manipulations of faces. In P. Wombell (ed.), Photovideo: Photography
in the age of the computer (pp. 32-38). London: Rivers Oram Press.
^ Galton, F. (1878). Composite portraits. Journal of the
Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, 8, 132-142.
^ Yamaguchi, M. K., Hirukawa, T., & Kanazawa, S. (1995). Judgment of
gender through facial parts. Perception, 24, 563-575.
^ There's Something Queer about that Face, Scientific American
^ Agawa, The Reluctant Admiral, p. 110-115.
^ The Face tells all, The Center For Arms Control And Non-
Claudia Schmölders, Hitler's Face: The Biography of an Image.
Translated by Adrian Daub. University of Pennsylvania Press: 2006.
Liz Gerstein, About Face. SterlingHouse Publisher, Inc. ISBN
"Ugly Criminals", H. Naci Mocan and Erdal Tekin, December 2005
Selected images from: Della Porta, Giambattista: De humana
physiognomonia libri IIII (Vico Equense, 1586). Historical Anatomies
on the Web. National Library of Medicine.
Women's traits 'written on face' (BBC News Wednesday, 11 February
"On Physiognomy" - An Essay by Arthur Schopenhauer
"Composite Portraits", by Francis Galton, 1878 (as published in the
Journal of the Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland,
"Enquiries into Human Faculty and its Development", book by Francis