Your face speaks volumes about you. More than just being pretty or handsome, it tells others if you are competent, trustworthy and likeable.
That's the word from researchers at Princeton University, who determined that we judge people's competence, trustworthiness and likeability based solely on their facial features. Those who had a round face and big eyes--that classic baby face look--were consistently judged to be less competent, reports The Associated Press.
This could have big ramifications for anyone planning on running for public office or aiming for a big promotion in business.
Led by Alexander Todorov, the research team showed pairs of photographs to more than 800 students. Both photos in each pairing were of real candidates for the U.S. Congress in 2000 and 2002, including one winner and one loser. They chose only candidates that would be unknown to the students. Looking at the photo pairs for just one second, the students were told to choose the candidate they thought had won or would win the election. Based solely on the facial features, the students chose the winning candidate an astonishing 68.8 percent of the time.
"This remarkable effect...likely reflects differences in 'babyfacedness,'" Leslie Zebrowitz of Brandeis University and Joann Montepare of Emerson College wrote in a commentary in the journal Science in which the research findings were published.
The researchers conducted several studies, and in one of them they asked 143 participants to rate the importance of 13 different traits for a person seeking public office. "These traits included competence, trustworthiness, likeability, and 10 additional traits," the researchers said. "Competence was rated as the most important trait."
Zebrowitz and Montepare, said it all comes down to having a baby face. "A more babyfaced individual is perceived as less competent than a more mature-faced, but equally attractive, peer of the same age and sex," they wrote in the commentary in the journal Science. "Although we like to believe that we 'don't judge a book by its cover,' superficial appearance qualities such as babyfacedness profoundly affect human behavior in the blink of an eye."
What is a baby face? It's round with large eyes, a small nose, a high forehead and a small chin.