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Different shape of our faces determines if we are 'rich' or 'poor,' new study suggests

The study shows how society is still biased on how someone looks rather than their hard work and perseverance in life.

Different shape of our faces determines if we are 'rich' or 'poor,' new study suggests
Cover Image Source: Pexels | Andrea Piacquadio | Facial features linked to stereotypes and social class perception - University of Glasglow

We often think that people make judgments about us by looking at the clothes or bags that we carry or how well-kempt we are. Have you ever thought that people judge if one is rich or poor by looking at the facial shape? Yes, that's true. A recent study by the University of Glasglow has found that people are quick to make impressions about other people's social class by looking at their face shapes. The research was conducted by a team of researchers at the University's School of Psychology and Neuroscience. It was carried out with white participants from Western cultures. They were asked to look at 3D models of faces and make judgments on their wealth and social standing, reports Indy100.

Image Source: Pexels | Andrea Piacquadio
Representative Image Source: Pexels | Andrea Piacquadio

"The results reveal a unique constellation of facial features that underlie judgments of social class. Faces perceived as poor exhibited particular characteristics such as being wider, shorter, and flatter, with downturned mouths and darker, cooler complexions," says the research. Moreover, it said that these facial features also appear "more incompetent, cold, or untrustworthy." On the contrary, faces that are perceived as rich are "narrower and longer with upturned mouths and lighter, warmer complexions–features which corresponded to those associated with perceptions of competence, warmth, and trustworthiness."

Image Source: Pexels | Craig Adderley
Representative Image Source: Pexels | Craig Adderley

One of the authors of the study, Dr. R Bjornsdottir said, "People who are perceived to be of high or low social class standing are also often judged as having advantageous or unfavorable traits, respectively. Such judgments are formed even just from facial appearance, and this can have substantial downstream consequences, including disadvantaging those who are perceived to be of lower social class standing.''

“The results suggest that social class stereotypes explain the link between facial appearance and judgments of individuals’ social class standing. This highlights that the stereotypes we hold are consequential for how we perceive others they bias our perceptions. Our impressions of other people can then lead to particular advantages or disadvantages for them,” she added. 

Professor Rachael E. Jack, Professor of Computational Social Cognition said that the research helped to understand how facial attributes play an important role in "connecting social class perceptions with related stereotypes." These findings are not only valuable for advancing our understanding of central social perception theories but could also help with future interventions designed to interrupt biased perceptions.

The study is a sad reminder of how biased society is and in reality, face shape is not the only factor that determines a person would become rich or poor, it is also their hard work and other capabilities. Another study from the University of Toronto, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology in 2017, also found that people's faces may reveal if one is rich or poor, per the New York Post. The study included guessing the wealth of real people based on photographs, and the participants were able to guess with 53% accuracy. “Over time, your face comes to permanently reflect and reveal your experiences,” said study co-author Nicholas Rule. “Even when we think we’re not expressing something, relics of those emotions are still there."


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