Thursday, November 01, 2007

Patsy Theory - Personality linked to Appearance

I'm a person who has a lot of "theories." I'm not sure why, but my brain just seems to churn them out on a regular basis. Maybe they help me define the world in some way.

One of my long time theories is that there are things in our appearance that give other people clues to our personality. I think they may be things we perceive on an almost subconscious level, but that they're there anyway.

How else can you explain situations, which are numerous, of people making snap judgments about people that turn out to be true? There was a case a few years ago in Wichita where a young lady didn't open the door of the fast food place where she worked to a man who was waiting at 6 a.m. She said she looked in his eyes and they were "crazy." When he couldn't get in that door, he went to the fast food place down the street and killed three people. What did she see? Something, obviously.

There are numerous studies where subjects make predictions about people they don't know, and they're always about 95% correct. I experienced this in a college communications class where a professor had us make predictions about her on day one. We were about 98% correct as a group. It stands to reason that there are some things we determine by sight, that we are not even aware of. I think these are tiny things that we couldn't even specify - that we just perceive them on a subconscious level.

Well, science to the rescue of this Patsy Theory.

Swedish researchers have determined that "pits" and "wrinkles" in people's irises are linked to various personality traits.

I'm guessing there are many other small things like this that we process on a nearly subconscious level that tell us something about our fellow humans. It's not good or bad - it just is.

And... the eye photo is mine from a Dec. 2005 post. I wouldn't want to expose someone else!



They have detected patterns which show warm-heartedness and trust or neuroticism and impulsiveness.

The team from Orebro University read pits and lines in the irises of 428 people.

Experts said the study in Biological Psychology showed that at least some aspects of personality ere determined by genetics.

Close-up pictures were taken of the study participants' irises, and they also filled out a questionnaire about their personalities.

The researchers looked at crypts (pits) and contraction furrows (lines curving around the outer edge of the iris), which are formed when pupils dilate.

It was found that those with more crypts were likely to be tender, warm and trusting, while those with more furrows were more likely to be neurotic, impulsive and give in to cravings.


The researchers suggest that a neurodevelopmental gene called PAX6 could also play a major role.

It is known to help control the development of the iris in an embryo.

Previous research has also shown that a mutation of PAX6 is linked to impulsiveness and poor social skills.

The team, led by Dr Matt Larsson a behavioural scientist, said: "These findings support the notion that people with different iris configurations tend to develop along different trajectories in regards to personality.

"Differences in the iris can be used as a biomarker that reflects differences between people."

Dr George Fieldman, principal lecturer in psychology at Buckinghamshire Chilterns University College, said: "This is very interesting. It shows that some aspects of personality have a genetic base and to identify them in the eye in this fascinating way is significant.

"It is surprising that this is possible. But it seems that the old aphorism that 'the eyes are the window to the soul' has some genetic basis."

He said it opened up the possibility that security services could one day use the technique to analyse people.

Airports, including Heathrow, Manchester and Gatwick are already testing iris scanning to identify people - but are not to check personality traits.

But Dr Fieldman added: "Security services would have to use such technologies with some caution. You would not want to arrest somebody on the basis of their iris."


Anonymous said...

I think you're right about that being part of the reason we make snap judgments. It's not all because we're just judgmental - people really do give off signals, don't they?

Very interesting study! I love things like that.

Patsy Terrell said...

I think we are far more perceptive than we give ourselves credit for. I think there are these little "clues" that we don't even realize we're seeing, hearing, sensing in whatever way they come to us.