Do you judge a human book by its cover? Assign people personality traits based on their faces? Better be careful if you do.
New research highlights the risk of judging people’s characters based on their facial expressions:
Those assumptions affect how we’re treated.
For example, if we’re blessed with a welcoming expression, we’re more likely to be seen as competent and trustworthy. Therefore, we win elections, become CEOs, and bring more boys (or girls) to the yard.
Uh oh, spaghettios. This doesn’t bode well for introverts.
The Introverted Face
The article discussing this research features an example of an introverted vs. extroverted face (The Introverted Face). To avoid using their image, I’m posting one of my own. My apologies for its American Horror Story scariness. Lord knows I would never have posted such hideous self-photos in the past, but with age comes blissful indifference. And, given I’ve spent years hearing:
Are you mad?
Why so serious?
Smile, it can’t be that bad
I decided seeing the issue addressed was worth the personal embarrassment.
So, So Somber
Many times, an introvert’s natural expression is one of seriousness. Flat. Emotionless. Even frowning. We can’t help it. While our brains churn and burn, our faces fail to keep up. But according to the article, our natural expression risks others seeing us as incompetent and unreliable. Ouch.
Although we might not be able to define it, I suspect most introverts sense this over time, so we learn to adopt an extroverted mask. Or at least we try to. Some are perhaps better at it than others, because when my husband saw the above photo of my extroverted attempt, he burst out laughing.
But our stern expressions don’t mean we’re angry. Or worried, or depressed, or ready to throw you off the building. In fact, when you get to know us—or should I say when we let you get to know us—you’ll see our faces come alive.
See? We can be fun. So elect us as politicians. Make us CEOs. Listen to our opinions.
Just don’t invite us to any parties.
Oh, one more thing. A piece of advice for you men out there, advice that might save your life. When you pass women on the street (or the hall or the breakroom), don’t tell them to smile. We don’t like that. At all. You wouldn’t tell another man to smile, would you? So please extend the courtesy to us. Otherwise, we might just throw you off that building after all…*
What’s your natural expression?
*Women, it goes both ways. We shouldn’t tell men to smile either. Unless we’re a photographer.
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