Consciously or not, intuitively or purposely, people assess one another. First, an idea is born, and then an opinion is formed of person’s qualities, not the least of which is intelligence. In everyday social interactions — face-to-face, face-to-avatar, face-to-snapshot — a quick glance at someone’s face is enough to make a correct guess… Or not?
Perceived Intelligence Is Associated with Measured Intelligence in Men but Not Women by Karel Kleisner et al is an article, reporting on a research on ability to accurately assess the intelligence of other persons.
A principal findings of the research is pretty accurately spelled out in the title of the article: Perception of men’s intelligence based exclusively on their faces is more accurate compared to assessment and perception of women’s faces.
Static facial photographs of 40 men and 40 women were used in this study. “Perceivers”, both men and women, evaluated the intelligence of men by viewing facial photographs. The results were very close to measured IQ of men on photos. Figural and fluid intelligence showed a significant correlation with perceived intelligence.
Results were true only for men. No relationship between perceived intelligence and actual IQ was found for women.
We used geometric morphometrics to determine which facial traits are associated with the perception of intelligence, as well as with intelligence as measured by IQ testing.
Faces that are perceived as highly intelligent are rather prolonged with a broader distance between the eyes, a larger nose, a slight upturn to the corners of the mouth, and a sharper, pointing, less rounded chin.
By contrast, the perception of lower intelligence is associated with broader, more rounded faces with eyes closer to each other, a shorter nose, declining corners of the mouth, and a rounded and massive chin. By contrast, we found no correlation between morphological traits and real intelligence measured with IQ test, either in men or women.
Thus the results of the research suggest that a perceiver (a person examining the photographs) can accurately gauge the real intelligence of men, but not women.
Most likely, researchers say, this estimation is NOT based on facial shape, since the study revealed no relation between intelligence and either attractiveness or face shape.
So, it might be a good idea not to judge a cute blonde to be dumb. Ask her, ever so gently, what is her IQ. You might be surprised… whether or not she’d give you a straight answer or — ever so gently — give you a quick and remarkably accurate assessment of your intelligence.