Body shapes and personality

A variety of personality traits are inferred from body appearance, and first impressions rely in part at least on body shape.

Body shapes and personality
Body shape and personality

Main titles

  • According to research people make value judgments about strangers based on their bodies.

“Our research shows that people infer a wide range of personality traits just by looking at the physical features of a particular body. Stereotypes based on body shape can contribute to how we judge and interact with new acquaintances and strangers. Understanding these biases is important for considering how we form first impressions.” - psychological scientist Ying Hu of the University of Texas at Dallas, first author on the research.

  • So far research has concentrated on first impressions generated from peoples' faces.

“We wanted to know whether we could link personality descriptor words to body shape in predictable ways, that is, do people look at a person’s body and make snap judgments about whether the person is lazy, enthusiastic, or irritable?” - Ying Hu

  • The research focused on whether traits were matched consistently with certain body types.
  • Some of the positive traits were enthusiastic, extraverted, dominant while some of the negative were quiet, reserved, and shy.
  • Heavier bodies were matched with being lazy and careless
  • Lighter bodies were associated with self-confidence and enthusiasm.
  • So called active traits such as irritability and extraversion were associated with a greater perception of masculinity and femininity.
  • So called passive traits such as shyness, dependability, warmth and trustworthiness were associated with male and female bodies that were more rectangular.

Study: The University of Texas at Dallas, Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems.