Judging by Appearances

How to Judge People by What They Look Like
Edward Dutton
Self-published, 2018
107 pages, $14.19 paperback, free in Kindle

Anthropologist Ed Dutton will be familiar to some readers for his work with Richard Lynn (including the book Race and Sport) and as an occasional contributor to The Occidental Quarterly. He has just published a short book on physiognomy, i.e., the relation between physical features and behavioral tendencies.

We often hear that it is not possible to judge others from appearance, but there is plenty of evidence that we all do so, and not only in the context of mate-seeking. Dutton draws our attention to the General Prologue to Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, where the poet carefully describes the physical appearance of each of the pilgrims, matching these with their personalities as revealed in their behavior and the stories they tell. The Reeve’s thinness of build is supposed to suit his irritability and quickness to anger. The Wife of Bath has a gap between her front teeth to suggest her sexual aggressiveness. There was a whole body of physiognomic teaching in Medieval Europe, where the subject was taught in universities until the sixteenth century. Unfortunately, much of medieval physiognomic lore had an astrological basis, limiting its scientific usefulness.

Might it not be time to reopen the question?

In 1966 psychologists at the University of Michigan conducted an experiment on 84 undergraduates who had never met. They had to sit in complete silence with each other for 15 minutes and rate each other on personality traits, simply by appearance. Each participant also sat a personality test. For three traits — Extraversion, Conscientiousness and Openness — the students‟ appearance-based judgements significantly positively correlated with the actual personality scores (Passini & Warren, 1966).

A later follow up study replicated the results for Extraversion and Conscientiousness using only mugshots.

Many homosexuals claim to have a “gaydar,” or faculty for recognizing other homosexuals at sight. A recent well-publicized study has provided empirical support for such claims. Kosinski and Wang (2017) designed a computer program that could distinguish between photographs of homosexual and heterosexual men with 81% accuracy. A control group of human judges achieved 61% accuracy. Figures for distinguishing between lesbians and heterosexual women were slightly lower, both for human judges and computers. This may indicate the greater importance of social factors in the etiology of lesbianism.

Body type can also be revealing. Endomorphs tend toward extraversion, ectomorphs are high on conscientiousness and and neuroticism, and mesomorphs are low on conscientiousness. These findings partly reflect differences in testosterone level.

Obesity in the West correlates with low socio-economic status, low intelligence, and poor impulse control, but also with being friendly and gregarious. Slimmer people tend to be more conscientious, while unhealthy thinness is associated with neuroticism, depression, and anxiety.

Many physiognomic signals are mediated by testosterone, i.e., testosterone levels help determine both physical and personality/behavioral traits, so that the latter can be inferred from the former. High testosterone in men, e.g., tends to be associated with shortness, muscularity, broadness of the faces, chiseled jaws and even “shovel hands,” i.e., relatively slight differences between the lengths of fingers. High-T men are also hairier—except on the tops of their heads, where they are likelier to be bald. All these traits, therefore, tend to predict competitiveness, low impulse control, low empathy, and greater visuospatial, mathematical and systemizing capabilities.

Similar traits are even found in higher-testosterone women. Dutton reports:

I was at a conference at University College London in 2015. The university was trying to promote the idea that women have made an important contribution to science. The wall of the student refectory was decorated with photographs of living, relatively eminent female scientists. It was remarkable (to myself and my colleagues from the conference) how masculine the faces of these women scientists were.

Prominent secondary sex characteristics, such as large breasts in women, tend to correlate with a faster life history (r-selectedness), i.e. a tendency to live in the present.

Small breasts would betoken the fact that the woman was less programmed to sexually advertise, meaning a slower life history [= K-selectedness]. So, it would make sense for a slower [life history style] man to be more attracted to smaller breasts in order to attain a slower [life history] female.

Some physical traits are revealing within races, while comparisons across races are more problematic. For example, within races there is a correlation of about 0.1 between intelligence and height. But height comparisons between men of different races may not display this pattern, since northerly latitudes favor both higher intelligence and stockier builds.

Two Chinese researchers, Wu and Zhang, have found that certain physical traits tend to characterize criminals. The angle “from nose tip to two mouth corners is on average 19.6% smaller for criminals than for non-criminals and has a larger variance.” In addition “the upper lip curvature . . .  is on average 23.4% larger for criminals,” and the distance “between two eye inner corners” is slightly narrower (5.6%) for criminals than it is for non-criminals. Criminals also have less symmetrical faces and greater variation in features generally, possibly because of an association between criminal tendencies and higher mutational loads.

Some traits proverbially associated with red hair may result from the MCIR.3 gene, which causes not only red hair but greater susceptibility to pain and cold.

Good looks in general predict religiosity, traditionalism and acceptance of social hierarchy.

It is important to remember that most physiological correlations are low, often around 0.1, so any individual trait is not likely to be especially revealing. A combination of several traits is necessary for more reliable predictions.

This is a fascinating book on a topic that has generally been ignored in the research literature. Highly recommended.

30 replies
  1. Barkingmad
    Barkingmad says:

    Look at the 2 points on the upper lip. Without exception, when those 2 points are quite far apart, more than average, it gives the person a sneering, cruel, smirking appearance. This physical characteristic is overrepresented in certain cultural groups. These folks don’t smile so much as bare their teeth.


    Of course, just about anyone can sneer sometimes. I am talking here about people who look like that all the time. Here is a good example:


    I am not saying that this man is cruel or uncaring (I don’t know him), only that, right or wrong, such an expression has come to be associated with cruelty.

  2. Bernard
    Bernard says:

    Rasputin’s face was so hairy only his eyes were visible – a difficult subject for physiognomists I should imagine.

  3. C.T.
    C.T. says:

    Very interesting. Physiognomy has always intrigued me. I wonder what would TOO visitors opine about this statement by a Spanish blogger (translated to English):

    A pure White Nordid. Notice his skin is neither pale, nor milky-white, nor rosy or ruddy. It is rather “golden,” in harmony with the hair, and seems suitable to get a moderate tan without getting burned when exposed to sunlight. Forehead is high but not completely vertical. Psychologically, this is a noble, harmonious, serene, serious, patient, well-balanced, martial, honourable, disciplined, efficient and racist race; but also somewhat naïve, too angelic and not very cunning in many ways….

    Psychology, idiosyncrasy and racial character: Love for honour, attachment to order, respect for authority and seniority; warlike and military vocation, courage, altruism, loyalty, racism, heroism, self- control, discipline. Intelligence, thoughtfulness. Highly developed willpower, leaning to sports training. Eagerness to explore.

    Also innocent, unable to cheat and useless in diplomacy. This race is not shrewd not because it lacks intelligence but due to an “angelical” way of understanding the world. This makes them vulnerable in a degraded and debased modern society, so that darker and more primitive racial types tend to take advantage of them. This race represents the myth of the unworried and trusting Siegfried and the “stab on the back” archetype.

    My emphasis. Full article: here.

    • Barkingmad
      Barkingmad says:

      @C.T. If you have the time and if you are interested, go to Quora and do a search of “Are Greeks white?”. There is a variety of answers there, a good many of which will leave you astounded, some as venomous as anything you would care to read. Some of the answers are full of rage that anyone would even ask such a question, but not in a good way. Hint: Greek is a culture, just a culture.

        • Barkingmad
          Barkingmad says:

          @C.T. Thank you; that was illuminating. That article has convinced me that the early Greeks (Hellenes) were white by any standard. A few of the answers to this question on Quora are not too wicked and actually worth reading. But Quora in general does curl my toes. (I go there for questions & answers on needlework, etc. – not to read abuse of white people. But it manages to find me, anyway.)

          The reality is that today, the Greeks are pretty dark, most of them. Interesting that their only decent political party calls itself Golden Dawn. 🙂

  4. Sophie Johnson
    Sophie Johnson says:

    Funny, but I read this book pretty much on its appearance, although I had decided not to. And I rather wish I had not bothered, for it is as predictable as I had expected: a physionomic style is no sooner proposed and analysed than it is qualified, more often than not so heavily that the analysis loses all existential import. Worse, Dutton makes no concession to the subjectivity of evaluating a physionomic style, and therefore kids us that recurring measurements are objectively definitive. I need a lot more convincing on this point than Dutton offers. (Good pot-boiler though, I suppose.)

  5. The AntiLoser
    The AntiLoser says:

    Since a person’s appearance is under his control to a fair extent it is not surprising that an intelligent observer can make inferences that are better than random guesses. Also, our knowledge of other people’s attitudes allows us to predict what someone is likely to have experienced and thereby what their expectations are likely to be. Good-looking people are treated differently, old people are treated differently, etc. However we should abstain from stereotyped judgments based on hereditarian hypotheses that are mere conjectures about traits that have multiple causes. Applying even a valid stereotype to individual persons is anti-social. I have known obese African American women who were very bright, nervous and conscientious, and skinny white guys who were dumb, soft, and lazy.

  6. Robert Henderson
    Robert Henderson says:

    Natural selection must select for facial traits, whether that be for what is considered sexually attractive or for facial traits which make a person likeable or trustworthy. Every human (unless they are severely mentally handicapped) will respond more positively to those with faces which are attractive, friendly or trustworthy. Race indubitably comes into this as even in circumstances where there is considerable racial variety, for example, London or New York, mating between different races is still far less than would be expected if race had no part to play.

    The reaction to their face will condition a person’s behaviour towards both individuals and people in general. Suppose a person has a face which people find grim. That person through experience will expect people to behave in a certain way towards them. That will make them more inclined to be antisocial.

    But it must do more.

    • Edmund Connelly
      Edmund Connelly says:

      What reaction? Well, many attractive White women would want to marry him, and plenty of Christians would worship him and send him money. Film lovers would flock to the theater to see him.

      Yes, it’s hard to explain, but it must have something to do with crypsis. Somehow such a character fools people into seeing something other than what their eyes actually send to the brain. Kind of a human version of what happens with the cowbird, which has “adapted by laying their eggs in other birds’ nests. The cowbird will watch for when its host lays eggs, and when the nest is left unattended, the female will come in and lay its own eggs.”

      How in the world is the cucked bird fooled? Well, it is. I’m still waiting for a serious scientific treatise on how (((The Best of All People))) employ parasitism and crypsis in becoming so dominant.

      • Charlie
        Charlie says:

        You mean how Western White women are mostly total traitors to their race in order to receive their 30 shekels?

    • T. J.
      T. J. says:

      If Jocelyn Wildenstein Reversed Her Plastic Surgery

      Stacy • Thursday, January 15, 2009 at 11:21 PM • 0

      In case you’re not familiar with her, Jocelyn Wildenstein is a wealthy socialite who is said to have spent somewhere in the neighborhood of $4 million on plastic surgery. There are a couple of different stories out there, both originating from when she found her husband in bed with a 19-year-old Russian model. Either she had surgery to try to keep her appearance young and fresh to try to save her marriage, or she purposely told plastic surgeons that she wanted to look like a cat because he loved big game cats so much. This is what she might look like if she had some of the most drastic surgeries reversed:


  7. Lou
    Lou says:

    Asians have books on ‘Face Reading’ but mostly [from what I read] to determine illness, not personality.
    Search, ‘Michio Kushi.’

    • Barkingmad
      Barkingmad says:

      That book and similar ones are indeed about diagnosing internal health problems that show up in the face and other body parts. Even western Drs. occasionally notice this. But of course you aren’t supposed to notice the connection between spots and lines on the face or hands and disease until the Medical Establishment finally puts its official approval on it.

  8. Irene
    Irene says:

    Even if we look at the more whitish looking faces of great russian leaders like Krushev, Brezhnev, Yeltsin, Putin etc.. the first thing we notice are those broad faces, high cheek bones, deep set almond shaped eyes, wider jaws that come to a narrow point at the chin, and probably their back heads are flat like that of most Slavs.
    This phisiognomics is obviously traced back to the mongolic-tataric invasion and consequent interbreeding.
    Their admixing with Asians has been confirmed in major genetic tests since the starting of the Human Genome Project.

      • Carolyn Yeager
        Carolyn Yeager says:

        It’s not Putin’s aging, but his extensive plastic surgery that made him look more Asian. Previous to that, he was very Western looking, but since he must have already had plans to become President for Life, he thought he’d better get some “lifts.”

  9. John
    John says:

    I was just wondering if you have seen this Daily Mail article?

    Sweden vows to ban ALL religious schools in an effort to tackle segregation after taking in a record number of asylum seekers
    Sweden’s main governing party proposes a ban on all religious schools
    It follows reports of gender segregation in some Muslim free schools
    Jewish schools will be exempt from the new ban, politicians said


      • Barkingmad
        Barkingmad says:

        As I understand the article, there is only one “religious” jewish school. The others are non-religious “ethnic” jewish schools. I imagine the moslems could say that their particular schools are Pakistani (or other ethnicity) schools and not explicitly moslem.

  10. John
    John says:

    I’ve been telling a family member for years that Judgement Day is, indirectly, going to be physical beauty contest. Romans 9 touches on this area, I believe.

  11. Santoculto
    Santoculto says:

    “Religion” (mythology) is correlated with good looking…

    So most Muslims are good looking??

  12. Santoculto
    Santoculto says:

    Excessively “religiousness” seems so mutational-loaded than excessive atheism without a cause..

  13. Tom Sunic
    Tom Sunic says:

    F. Nietzsche was more direct: “monstrum in fronte, monstrum in animo” (a monster in face, a monster in soul). In E. Europe one can tell a former commie ( homo sovieticus) a hundred yards away; in US, one call tell an antifa –libtard a mile away. Triple c: Criminal Communist Chromosomes.

  14. T. J.
    T. J. says:

    ‘Ugly Jews,’ circumcision jokes: Delta workers detail anti-Semitic abuse

    NEW YORK (JTA) — It wasn’t long after Nahum Amir began working for Delta Airlines as a mechanic that he says his manager started calling him “the Jewish guy.” Then Amir says the manager accused him and other Jews of “killing kids in Gaza.”

    During the same period, Yaron Gilinsky was working as a Delta flight attendant on flights from New York to Tel Aviv. Except, he says, his non-Jewish co-workers would call it “Hell Aviv.” Gilinsky remembers some, including managers, making fun of ultra-Orthodox Jews’ beards and sidecurls. One non-Jewish fellow attendant called them “ugly Jews.”

    “Delta has encouraged and maintained an anti-Jewish, Hebrew and ethnic Israeli attitude among management,” the lawsuit says, adding that Delta managers “operate under an express assumption that ethnic Jews and Israelis, as employees and passengers, cannot be trusted, are aggressive and inappropriate, and engage in what are deemed to be ‘strange’ behaviors.”


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