PURPOSE: Physiognomy has over 3000 years history in China, which beliefs that people’s personality can be told through physiognomy. However, it hasn’t been verified by any scientific research. This research explored the relationship between face shapes in physiognomy, one of the face features, with relevant personalities by experiment, and the influence of face shapes through visual cognition to affect people’s judgments about personalities.
METHODS: According to eight face shapes theory on physiognomy, 10 trained laboratory assistants have selected 64 typical faces through 3816 pieces of ID photo following a designated procedure, and tested the selected 64 persons’ 16PF scores. 8 more ID photos have been randomly selected, and modified by Image Processing Technology into 8 face shapes (other features of face have stayed the same, the only variable is face shape) to get 64 artificial faces. 949 undergraduates, as participant, have visually judged these 128 faces in laboratory by using e-prime 2.0 and 16PF RATING SCALE. SPSS has been used to analyze data from tested 16PF scores and visual judgmental 16PF scores among 8 face shapes.
RESULTS: Totally, there is no significant difference (intergroup difference on ANOVA) among 8 typical faces’ tested sixteen personality traits. Through LSD paired-comparisons method, some face shapes have certain significant difference on some personality traits than a certain face shape (e.g. heart face shape (M=2.625*) is significantly lower than diamond face shape (M=4.375*) on Q2 trait; heart face shape (M=7.00*) is significantly higher than oval face shape (M=5.25*) on A trait.). In contrast, there are variety differences among 8 face shapes on people’s visual judgmental 16PF scores (e.g. heart face shape (M=4.01**) is significantly lower than all other face shapes on A trait; and oval face shape (M=6.35**) is significantly higher than all other face shapes on B trait.). By comprising the tested 16PF scores and visual judgmental 16PF scores of each face shape, there are significant differences on some personality traits (e.g. diamond face has a huge difference on Reasoning (t=-2.847**), Vigilance (t=2.256*), Perfectionism (t=-2.182*) between tested 16PF score and visual judgmental 16PF score.).
CONCLUSIONS: Traditional physiognomy theory on explaining personality by face shapes can’t be supported by the result, so that is unreliable. People are affected by inherent experience (such as people with square face shape look like more right-minded), which is a specific social cognition, and tend to make judgment about people’s personalities according to experience on others faces shapes. Although their judgments are inconformity with the real personality traits, it indeed influence many people’s judgments on personality. According to the founding of this research, if people can target someone’s favorite to have a targeted face shape by makeup, which will make he/she easier to build trust and favorable impression.