Face-ism Exists
October 26, 2014 9:57 PM   Subscribe

Are you an introvert or an extrovert? Your face can visibly answer this question, a Carnegie Mellon University professor argues.
posted by ourt (43 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
 
Actually, as usual these days with The Atlantic, the real story is buried and the hed is misleading if not contradictory:

"instead of applauding our ability to make inferences about social characteristics from facial appearances," Olivola said, "the focus should be on the dangers."

"When we see someone's face, we can make a lot of useful judgments," he said, "like about age, emotional state, gender, et cetera. For this, the face is pretty useful. But there's a pretty rich literature showing that we don't just stop there."

posted by blucevalo at 10:01 PM on October 26, 2014 [11 favorites]


What I am getting out of this is that the key to looking extroverted, trustworthy, and competent is to have expressive eyebrows and a slight smile.
posted by Pyry at 10:10 PM on October 26, 2014 [3 favorites]


have expressive eyebrows and a slight smile

Specifically, look like Julia Roberts.
posted by CaseyB at 10:14 PM on October 26, 2014 [10 favorites]


My sleepy introvert eyes belie my competent, trustworthy eyebrows.
Gotta smile harder, I guess.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 10:18 PM on October 26, 2014


"the key to looking extroverted, trustworthy, and competent is to have expressive eyebrows "

It's why you all love me so much!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:21 PM on October 26, 2014 [52 favorites]


Specifically, look like Julia Roberts.

That or Groucho Marx.
posted by No-sword at 10:31 PM on October 26, 2014 [7 favorites]


I once shifted to a Media-Ready pose (shoulders down, chest up, legs locked, half-smile, eyes open, jaw foward and slightly agape) in front of my Mom and it freaked herr out.

"JOHN WHY ARE YOU DOING THAT, YOU LOOK WEIRD."

But it makes a good photo
posted by The Whelk at 10:33 PM on October 26, 2014 [16 favorites]


have expressive eyebrows and a slight smile

I'm beetle-browed with a perma-scowl, and despite my obvious Go Away Face people will still try to talk to me like I'm some sort of damn extrovert. People are lousy judges.
posted by Metroid Baby at 10:51 PM on October 26, 2014 [9 favorites]


We just want to love you.
posted by maryr at 11:26 PM on October 26, 2014


Alternately, become a librarian. Then you can experience the joys of a) being an introvert* and b) being the person that complete strangers turn to with questions/direction requests/baby holding**even if you literally just got off the plane in a brand new to you country. This is known among us as "librarian face". ("Sorry I'm late, I got librarian faced on the way here")


* there's (many) a reason I work in technical services...
**I once ended up carrying someone's baby down an escalator with no idea how I ended up in that situation. We had matching o.O faces all the way down.

posted by halcyonday at 12:21 AM on October 27, 2014 [17 favorites]


So Extroverts are characters in the Elder Scrolls:Oblivion?
posted by Yowser at 1:26 AM on October 27, 2014 [11 favorites]


This is known among us as "librarian face".

Ah. This explains my life. I've merely neglected to become a librarian (mostly). Perhaps there's still time.
posted by you must supply a verb at 1:28 AM on October 27, 2014 [2 favorites]


have expressive eyebrows and a slight smile


I have resting Dreamworks face.
posted by louche mustachio at 2:06 AM on October 27, 2014 [11 favorites]


I know I'm not the only person to have experienced this: when I started taking Prozac I noticed that quite regularly people would come up to me on the street to ask for directions. It was a distinct change and I felt pretty happy to think that I might not have a resting 'beetle-browed perma-scowl', at least for as long I keep taking the pills.
posted by colie at 2:19 AM on October 27, 2014 [2 favorites]


you must supply a verb, join ussss, joooiinn usssssss. Yessss, come into the liiiiiiight, my preciousssss. *clears throat* I mean, librarian face can affect people outside of the sector too - do you have any librarians in your family tree? It may be genetic!
posted by halcyonday at 3:36 AM on October 27, 2014 [2 favorites]


Touched on tangentially at the end of the article, where it is mentioned that sentencing can often be predicted by the face of the accused, which some might say indicates a "criminal" face but most likely just means that judges and juries are being biased and letting their own perception of the accused be colored by irrelevant details like the shape of their face, I wonder how much having an "extroverted face" actually results in extroversion, by giving people more positive social feedback their whole life.
posted by Nothing at 4:16 AM on October 27, 2014 [2 favorites]


>have expressive eyebrows and a slight smile

Specifically, look like Julia Roberts.


I was thinking China Miéville. He's dreamy, and he knows his way around the dialectic!
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:06 AM on October 27, 2014 [2 favorites]


'"The fact that social decisions are influenced by facial morphology would be less troubling if it were a strong and reliable indicator of people’s underlying traits," the researchers write in today's article. "Unfortunately, careful consideration of the evidence suggests that it is not."'

There's your damn money quote.
posted by clvrmnky at 5:12 AM on October 27, 2014 [14 favorites]


I have the eyebrow thing. Maybe that's why some people mistake me for someone who wants to talk to them.
posted by Foosnark at 5:43 AM on October 27, 2014 [4 favorites]


There are studies suggesting that both dogs and infants use eyebrows to help cue them about where to look on the face (eyes), and stronger eyebrows make faces "easier" for dogs and babies to read. (Whereas shaved off and painted-on-in-the-wrong-place eyebrows make dogs wiggy, it's like your face is mute and they don't like it.) Dogs have a ridge above their eyes that they can use to make human-like eyebrow gestures (and nice strong muscles to move it around like an eyebrow), and many popular pet breeds have tufty or shaded dog-eyebrows on the ridge. Anecdotally, as someone with very strong and heavy eyebrows, dogs and babies DEFINITELY love looking at my face, I have like the ABC primer of faces, easy for beginners. People sometimes apologize that their baby won't stop staring at me.

When people suggest I get more normal/fashionable eyebrows, I'm just like, why would I give up my superpower of communicating with dogs and babies? I will now add "convincing people I'm likeable and trustworthy" to my list of magic eyebrow powers.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:45 AM on October 27, 2014 [10 favorites]


I am both a floor wax and a desert topping depending on whether I'm teaching a class or bean plating.
posted by Obscure Reference at 6:03 AM on October 27, 2014 [3 favorites]


As an introvert, it makes me very (inwardly) angry to see more evidence of the obvious conspiracy of extroverts to take over the world and torture and subjugate people who would rather just be left alone. "Just get out more! Look friendlier! Get along with people! Smile more!" It's extrovert privilege. That's what it is.
posted by wabbittwax at 6:05 AM on October 27, 2014 [7 favorites]


So Extroverts are characters in the Elder Scrolls:Oblivion?

That's what my sister calls "Bethesda face".
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 6:09 AM on October 27, 2014 [1 favorite]


If this study is any indicator, big eyes are the key to success.
posted by grumpybear69 at 6:37 AM on October 27, 2014


Princeton University's Friederike Funk

Please tell me this man is a musician in his spare time.
posted by jonmc at 7:20 AM on October 27, 2014 [3 favorites]


That graphic confirms what we all know, that introverts never smile.
posted by emjaybee at 7:25 AM on October 27, 2014


I can tell by the author's writing style that they have sort of nuchal bun, dramatic temporal protuberances, and pronounced fossa of Lombroso that indicates a predilection for mendacity and histrionics. This based on science, people!
posted by Panjandrum at 7:41 AM on October 27, 2014 [4 favorites]


That graphic confirms what we all know, that introverts never smile.

"Oh look, sergeant, you brought my smile back."
posted by Slackermagee at 7:44 AM on October 27, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'm an extrovert trapped behind an introvert's face!

Kidding: I'm all introvert.
posted by Trochanter at 7:58 AM on October 27, 2014 [1 favorite]


There was also a study recently that found that high emotional intelligence - extroversion and gregariousness - is more predictive of success than high IQ. Add to that the negative prejudice towards introverted faces and I'm imagining a future society of crushing mediocrity where everybody is happy-go-lucky and good in social situations but of average intelligence. There will be lots of loud, meaningless social gatherings where everyone has smooth interactions and boring conversations, and human progress will stagnate.
posted by ChuckRamone at 8:15 AM on October 27, 2014 [4 favorites]


I had a conducting professor tell me once that I had too many vertical lines in my face to look accessible or communicative, so I should try to maintain en expression with more horizontal lines. I worked a long time at it, and damned if people don't ALWAYS mistake me for far more competent than I am.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:26 AM on October 27, 2014 [3 favorites]


Vertical and horizontal face lines? This cannot go without details!
posted by Yowser at 8:32 AM on October 27, 2014


Metroid Baby: I'm beetle-browed with a perma-scowl, and despite my obvious Go Away Face people will still try to talk to me like I'm some sort of damn extrovert. People are lousy judges.

I feel like there's a certain small but annoying group of people who purposely seek to interact with "Go Away Face." Aside from the creepsters, some are just extroverts who can't imagine why someone would want to live such a lonely existence, one that entails, say, reading a book undisturbed on public transit.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 8:44 AM on October 27, 2014 [6 favorites]


Aside from the creepsters, some are just extroverts who can't imagine why someone would want to live such a lonely existence, one that entails, say, reading a book undisturbed on public transit.

There should be laws against disturbing the peace(able reading of books).
posted by Slackermagee at 9:41 AM on October 27, 2014


There was also a study recently that found that high emotional intelligence - extroversion and gregariousness - is more predictive of success than high IQ. Add to that the negative prejudice towards introverted faces and I'm imagining a future society of crushing mediocrity where everybody is happy-go-lucky and good in social situations but of average intelligence. There will be lots of loud, meaningless social gatherings where everyone has smooth interactions and boring conversations, and human progress will stagnate.

Future society?
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 12:35 PM on October 27, 2014 [5 favorites]


Also, "extraversion and gregariousness" does NOT equal "high emotional intelligence".
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 12:36 PM on October 27, 2014 [6 favorites]


I'm an introvert (being around people, even people I love, drains my energy; being alone recharges it) who loves getting into conversations with strangers. Wonder what the researchers would say about my face?
posted by Lexica at 5:26 PM on October 27, 2014 [1 favorite]


Omg, librarian face. I just never had a name for it...
I do miss my eyebrows though. Sigh, chlorine.
posted by susiswimmer at 11:20 PM on October 27, 2014


I can tell by the enlarged mid-temporal ridge here that this young man is highly combative and will not do well at the university. Application rejected!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 5:30 AM on October 28, 2014


Also, "extraversion and gregariousness" does NOT equal "average intelligence". There are very intelligent extroverts. There are very dumb introverts.
posted by maryr at 8:33 AM on October 28, 2014


Not all people with high emotional intelligence are extroverts. And not all extroverted people are of average intelligence. But the combination of favoritism for extroversion and high emotional intelligence as opposed to high IQ will probably end up with a society lopsided with extroverts of high emotional intelligence with average IQs.

That's what I was trying to say and am still trying to say though I'm probably not succeeding in either saying it well or even knowing if I'm saying what I mean or if what I mean is even logical.
posted by ChuckRamone at 11:15 AM on October 28, 2014


...Won't we always have a society of average IQs? Isn't that what average means?
posted by maryr at 11:34 AM on October 28, 2014 [1 favorite]


But the average IQ people aren't on average extroverts unless sexually and socially selected for extroversion.
posted by ChuckRamone at 12:00 PM on October 28, 2014


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