Three things your face reveals about you

What does your face reveal about you? Far more than you might imagine.

A series of fascinating studies, conducted by face-readers from around the world, have drawn strong links between facial structure and a full range of human characteristics – including intelligence, extraversion, conscientiousness, cooperation, dominance, courage, cowardice, impudence, aggression and sexual orientation. We’ll touch on three today.

Extraversion (those who enjoy socializing more than being alone)

Said psychologist Vinita Mehta, in a piece for Psychology Today: “For women, extraversion was the only significant factor that correlated with facial structure. Higher levels of extraversion were related to more protruding nose and lips, a recessive chin and masseter muscles (the jaw muscles used in chewing). By contrast, the face of those with lower extraversion levels showed the reverse pattern, in which the area around the nose appeared to press against the face. These findings suggest that perhaps psychological traits can – to some degree – be read on a person’s face, though more studies would be needed to understand this phenomenon.”


A BBC report discussed the link between skin color and lifestyle. Said the report: “. . . very subtle differences in skin color can also reveal your health secrets.” They reported on research conducted by Benedict Jones, University of Glasgow, and Carmen Lefevre, Northumbria University, noting: “Jones and Lefevre emphasize this has nothing to do with the tones associated with ethnicity, but barely-noticeable tints that may reflect differences in lifestyle. You appear to be in more robust health, for instance, if your skin has a slightly yellowish, golden tone.” According to Lefevre, the report said, when you’ve eaten enough carotenoids (in orange and red fruit and vegetables) “they layer in the skin and dye it yellow.” The glow of health, said the BBC report, “in turn, contributes significantly to your physical attraction – more so, in fact, than the more overt tones that might accompany a trip to the tanning salon.” The report adds: “A blush of pink, meanwhile, should signal the good circulation that comes with an active lifestyle – and it might also be a sign of a woman’s fertility.”


According to psychologist Mehta, “studies have found that the ratio of facial width-to-height (i.e., how narrow or wide the face is) is associated with aggression.” She highlights two studies in which participants viewed photos of men whose “behavioral aggressiveness had been assessed.” In one study, photos were glanced for 1200 milliseconds; in another, just 39 milliseconds. Said Mehta:

“These findings support the notion that facial width-to-height ratio may be an advertisement of aggressiveness, and is consistent with research demonstrating that higher levels of testosterone are related to both wider faces and dominant behavior in men.”

Three related points of interest:

1. Jobseekers beware! From a report: Australia “people reader” Alan Stevens “is developing a system that will match career paths to a collection of personality traits that he says can be determined from jobseekers’ facial dimensions.”

2. Fleeting emotions. From a New York Times article: “Dr. [Paul] Ekman’s research tool: FACS, or Facial Action Coding System, [deciphers] which of the 43 muscles in the face are working at any given moment, even when an emotion is so fleeting that the person experiencing it may not be conscious of it.”

3. Smiles vs. Frowns. Remember that well-traveled notion? “It takes 37 muscles to frown and 22 to smile, so conserve energy and smile.” Sorry to say, that’s an urban myth (science reveals it takes 12 to smile and 11 to frown). We do, however, still recommend smiling!

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