07 July 2017

Your face reveals if you are rich or poor: study

Volunteers were able to detect whether these were the faces of ‘rich’ or ‘poor’ students. Picture: Researchgate

YOUR bank balance is written across your forehead.

People can tell whether someone is rich or poor by simply looking at their face, scientists have found, reports The Sun.

And those with a wealthy appearance are more likely to succeed in job interviews — creating a self-fulfilling prophecy which will make them even richer.

“It indicates that something as subtle as the signals in your face about your social class can actually then perpetuate it,” said Thora Bjornsdottir, who along with Professor Nicholas Rule of Toronto University, published the findings in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology this week.

“Those first impressions can become a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy.

“It’s going to influence your interactions, and the opportunities you have.”

Using an average family income of $A97,000 as a benchmark, the researchers classed student volunteers with family incomes under $78,000 as poor.

Those who came from families earning more than $A131,000 were classed as rich.

Each volunteer posed for photographs with a neutral expression on their face.

A separate group of participants were told to use nothing but gut instinct to decide which ones were “rich or poor” just by looking at their faces.

They were able to determine which student belonged to the rich or poor group at a level of accuracy that researchers say exceeds random chance.

In the photo below, can you pick if Group A or Group B belongs to the rich or poor group?

And if Group C or Group D are rich or poor in the second image?

Group A and Group B. Picture: Researchgate

Group A and Group B. Picture: ResearchgateSource:Supplied

Group C and group D. Picture: Researchgate

Group C and group D. Picture: ResearchgateSource:Supplied

“What we’re seeing is students who are just 18-22 years old have already accumulated enough life experience that it has visibly changed and shaped their face to the point you can tell what their socio-economic standing or social class is,” said Rule.

But if you want to look flush when you’re not, there’s still hope.

The ability to read a person’s cash flow only applies to an expressionless face, and not when people are smiling or showing emotions.

The researchers reckon that emotions mask lifelong habits of expression that become etched on a person’s face even by their late teens or early adulthood, such as frequent happiness, which is stereotypically associated with being wealthy and satisfied.

The answers were skewed by race, gender or how much time people were given to look at the images.

This is what’s called non-verbal behaviour in the science world.

“There are neurons in the brain that specialise in facial recognition. The face is the first thing you notice when you look at somebody,” said Rule.

“We see faces in clouds, we see faces in [piece of] toast. We are sort of hardwired to look for face-like stimuli.

“And this is something people pick up very quickly. And they are consistent, which is what makes it statistically significant.”


In the top picture, group A is “rich” and group B is “poor”.

In the second picture group C is “rich” and group D is “poor”.

This story first appeared on The Sun.

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