What makes one appear smarter and more sociable?
It has been a few months since judg.me launched, and thousands of photos have been uploaded and judged by users since.
We wanted to get to the bottom of how people make snap judgments about others, so we donned our Hardly Boys hats, and got down to following some raging clues (read: unsexy data crunching). What is it that makes Person A appear more extroverted but less smarter than Person B? Does ethnicity matter? Hairstyle? The environment?
A sample size of 1000 random photos, each with at least 100 ratings, was selected. As no descriptive information is provided when a photo is uploaded, this process involved going through each photo to analyze certain characteristics that the user possessed. To standardize comparisons across the photos, we only focused on the following 12 traits:
- Ethnicity: Asian / Black / Indian / Latino / Middle-Eastern / White
- Gender: Female / Male
- Glasses: No / Yes / Sunglasses
- Cap/Hat: No / Yes
- Hair Color: Bald / Black / Blond / Brown / Dyed / Grey / Red
- Hair Length: Bald / Short / Medium / Long
- Facial Hair: Mustache Only / Beard Only / Mustache + Beard / Stubble / None
- Environment: Indoors / Outdoors
- Visibility: Face Only / Body Only / Face + Body
- Facial Expression: Neutral / Smiling / “Blue Steel” or “Duck Face”*
- Body Type: Normal / Fat
Alone in the photo?: Yes / No
Keep in mind that given the recent launch of judg.me, the sample size for each trait was not equal, meaning the insights gained from comparing across the traits could be skewed. For e.g., the male::female ratio was roughly 56::44, so this difference could have skewed the insights when comparing the results of both sets of users.
So far so good? Right. Let’s dive into what we’ve found.
Well, surprise, surprise. Asians are perceived to be the smartest of the different ethnicities taken into account, with an average “Smart” score of 5.850. Their social skills, however, clocks in at an average of 5.090, the second lowest among the different ethnic groups. Whites, Latinos and Blacks are all perceived to be more social than intellectual; this difference is especially pronounced in Latinos, who are judged to be the most social of the lot (average score: 5.793), while simultaneously being viewed most unfavorably on the Smart scale (average score: 4.848).
TL;DR: Be Asian if you want to appear smart; Latino if you want to appear extroverted.
The average lady is perceived to be both smarter (5.345 vs 5.123) and more sociable (5.314 vs 5.275) than the average guy. Let’s drill down further and see what happens.
Things are getting pretty interesting here. Indian women are perceived to be significantly smarter than their sistas (this, however, is probably due to the relatively small number of Indian females represented in the overall sample size), followed closely by Asian women. Black ladies are perceived to be the dimmest bulbs across all gender/ethnic groups, with a score of just 4.375. Asian guys come out top on the Smart scale with a score of 5.708; in comparison, white males have an average Smart score of 5.057.
TL;DR: Asian guys are perceived to be the smartest men around. Black females fared the worst on the Smart scale.
Are blondes really dumb? Blonds – male and female – are only beaten out on the “Dense” scale by redheads. Black-haired ladies and men were perceived to be smarter than they are sociable, while redheads are perceived to be significantly more sociable than smart. Perhaps not surprisingly, grey-haired men are judged to be the wisest guys around. Women with dyed hair are perceived to be the most extroverted group.
TL;DR: “Blonde” jokes should be modified to include redheads as well.
What’s interesting in this particular scenario is that there’s a significant difference between each group – hair length appears to play a massive role in affecting people’s perceptions. Females with short hair (boy-cut) are perceived to be the most sociable lot, while men with long hair are perceived to be, by far, intellectually and socially inept, relative to the other groups. Bald guys occupy the other end of the spectrum, being perceived as the smartest among men.
TL;DR: Bald guys are seen as the smartest guys around. Short-haired ladies are judged to be the most extroverted group.
How does wearing spectacles or sunglasses affect people’s perception of you? Those with glasses – both men and women – are assumed to be significantly smarter than those without, while simultaneously being perceived as less sociable. Wearing sunglasses appears to drastically improve how others perceive one’s social skills; however, sunglasses also have the effect of making one appear, well, more stupid.
TL;DR: Sunglasses make you appear relatively more outgoing – but more dense at the same time.
This section is, naturally, applicable to males only. Guys with beards (and no mustaches) have a Smart score of just 4.320, while they are perceived to be significantly more sociable. Those with only a mustache, on the other hand, are judged to be the most introverted of the lot, with a score of 4.096. Guys with a stubble are the best performers on the Smart and Social scales.
TL;DR: Go for the 5 o’clock shadow, fellas. It’ll do you good.
What can we learn here? We see that females with photos showing only their faces are perceived to be smarter than they are sociable. However, if a woman has a photo where she as much as shows her shoulders, she is perceived to be more sociable than she is smart. This difference is further reinforced by the setting of the photo – users who are outdoors are seen as significantly more sociable than those who are indoors. A single tree in the background in your photo could influence people’s perception of your social capacity!
TL;DR: Go outside if you want people to think you’re more sociable than you really are. Oh, and if you bare as much as your shoulders, you’d appear a heckuva lot more outgoing as well.
Once again, things look pretty obvious here. A “Blue Steel” or “Duck face” expression makes one appear much more dense than they would have seemed otherwise (4.954 for women, and 4.377 for men on the Smart scale). A neutral non-smiling expression makes one appear more smart than sociable, whereas users who smile are perceived to be both sociable and smart.
TL;DR: Life is short. Smile more often.
Pretty interesting stuff here. The differences in perceived intelligence and extroversion between fat and normal-sized women are much more pronounced than that between fat and normal-sized men. Fat women are perceived to have a Smart score of 4.946 (compared to a Smart score of 5.381 for average women), and a Social score of just 4.771, compared to a score 5.363 for average women. On the other hand, while fat men trail behind averaged-sized men on both scales, they are perceived to be more dense and outgoing than fat ladies.
TL;DR: Your weight has a much more significant bearing on others’ perception of you if you’re a woman. Tough luck.
This is somewhat related to the setting of the user’s photo. If the user is *not* alone – that is, if there are friends, or even strangers, in the background, the user is perceived to be significantly more sociable than if s/he were the only subject in the photo!
TL;DR: Even if you’re taking a self-portrait, try to take one with people in the background. It’ll make you look more outgoing.
This was a fun exercise in understanding how certain traits are mapped to one’s perception of a user’s intelligence and social capacity. As more photos and data points come in, we’ll be able to further refine our data analysis process to churn out even more interesting insights. Stay tuned.