Cicero wasn’t far off in his assessment when he said, “The countenance is the portrait of the soul, and the eyes mark its intentions.”
Contrary to our mother’s instructions to not judge a book by its cover, we do so anyway, and a recent article by David Robson from the BBC gives cause for doing so. Our face can say a lot about our personality, fitness, and intelligence.
Carmen Lefevre at Northumbria University explained to Robson:
The idea is that our biology, like genes and hormone levels, influences our growth, and the same mechanisms will also shape our character.
For instance, Lefevre states that higher levels of testosterone tend to produce a person with a wider face and bigger cheekbones, and their personality is more dominant — taking on an aggressive nature. Previous studies have shown that these traits also appear in capuchin monkeys — with wider-faced primates holding higher ranks within their respective groups.
Snap judgments based on the level of fat in your face can also be a predictor for fitness. Thinner faces, indicating some regular exercise, tend to fight off diseases better than fuller-cheeked counterparts, as well as have lower rates of depression and anxiety.
As for intelligence, one study has shown we tend to be able to predict if someone is smart or not with “modest accuracy,” however, it’s not clear what visual cues give this away (not glasses).
Read more on how our faces say what they do about our personalities, intelligence, and fitness on the BBC.