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By Ana Sandoiu
Fact checked by Gianna D'Emilio
Do you think you can tell if a person is quarrelsome and irritable or warm and reliable based on the shape of their body? New research illuminates "the complicated and value-based judgments that people make about strangers based only on their bodies."
Research reveals the snap judgments we make about strangers' personalities based exclusively on body shape.
Despite the wise adage, "Don't judge a book by its cover," we tend to make instant assumptions about strangers' personalities based solely on superficial traits, such as their age, gender, or the shape of their face.
Past findings indicated that people often form first impressions of trustworthiness, dominance, and emotional stability based on facial shape. In addition, facial characteristics may even hold the key to predicting physiological health, according to recent research.
Until now, scant research in psychology had linked these judgments to body shape.
A new study, published in the journal Psychological Science, has filled this gap, investigating the personality traits that people tend to associate with specific body shapes.
Psychological scientist Ying Hu, of the University of Texas at Dallas, is the study's first author. She explains her team's motivation, saying, "We wanted to know whether we could link personality descriptor words to body shape in predictable ways."
"Do people look at a person's body and make snap judgments about whether the person is lazy, enthusiastic, or irritable?"
Studying body shapes and first impressions
To find out, Hu and the team designed 140 realistic 3-D body models, half of which were male and half of which were female. To create these models, the researchers used laser scans of human bodies.