Subtle facial cues could allow people to determine whether you’re rich or poor just on first impression.
Those are the findings of a new study from the University of Toronto that says your economic standing is written on your face. In fact, not only are people able to tell if you are rich or poor just by looking at your face, but those perceptions can also impact how successful you will be.
It’s easier to make more money if you already look rich.
People use those impressions in biased ways, such as judging the rich faces more likely than the poor ones to be hired for a job, says the paper by Associate Professor Nicholas Rule and PhD candidate Thora Bjornsdottir in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
“Those first impressions can become a sort of self-fulfilling prophesy. It’s going to influence your interactions, and the opportunities you have,” says Bjornsdottir.
For this study, the researchers grouped student volunteers into those whose total family incomes were under $60,000 and those that had over $100,000, and then had them pose for photos with neutral expressions on their faces.
They then asked a separate group of participants to look at the photos and, using nothing but their gut instinct, decide which ones were “rich or poor” just by looking at the faces.
They were able to determine which student belonged to the rich or poor group at “a level that exceeds random chance.”
Control the impression you make
However, that first impression is different if you’re smiling. The researchers also found the ability to read a person’s social class only applies to their neutral face and not when people are smiling or expressing emotions.
So, before job interviews or big meetings, put your best face forward. Smile and make good eye contact. Be well rested and hydrated. Being overly tired or dehydrated will cause your expressions to fall into your neutral face. And that’s the one that others are judging your level of success on – and making decisions that can potentially impact that success.