Can you determine personal characteristics, i.e. helpfulness, work-ethic, good lover, just by looking at a person?

Nose Reading


Face Reading


Is there any proof of successful "face reading" technique supported by modern science? This is not about facial expressions, but the actual structures of the face; nose, eyebrows, eyes, lips, and jaws.

  • Oh no, not again! Facial features are correlated to race. Race is correlated (whether by nature, nurture or both) to personality. So, this question boils down to "is there evidence to support prejudice based on race and other superficial factors people can't control?"
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Dec 15, 2012 at 5:20
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    @Oddthinking its not a prejudice question but the articles.... yes. I would love to disprove it but I thought we were keeping opinions and gut checks out of the equation to look at things questioningly. Commented Dec 15, 2012 at 6:50

2 Answers 2


Face reading is considered Pseudoscience and has no accepted modern studies. It has gone in and out of favor over the course of history, with its emergence in Greek society and a resurgence in the 15th and 16th century society in Europe, and is still investigated by few psychologists today.

This study http://personal.lse.ac.uk/Kanazawa/pdfs/I2011.pdf by Satoshi Kanazawa, in 2011 is widely criticized for attempting to link body features of Black women with low physical attractiveness.

Wikipedia on Physiognomy http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Physiognomy Articles like the ones linked to in the original question can be considered physiognomy, racist, and unethical, yet these views nonetheless seem to be held by many: "38,000,000 [visitors] can't be wrong" - 2knowmyself.com pseudoscience

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    Please provide some references to support your claims. For example: Who considers it pseudoscience? How do you know about the emergence and resurgences? Who criticized the study? On what grounds?
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Dec 15, 2012 at 10:28

Yes, there is a basis in this. There are correlations between the shape of a person's face, and their personality type.

The practice of using such correlations is known in the law enforcement community as racial profiling.

While the exact scientific definition of race remains unclear and arbitrary, it is clear that there are strong differences between nose-shapes and different races for example.

Further, whether by nature, nurture or both, there are correlations between race and personality. For example, in Table 5 of this paper, a comparison of personality features ("Openness to Experience", etc.) is made for African-American and Caucasian participants.

From this, people have the ability to predict a person's race, and from that predict a person's temperament, thus saving them the effort by allowing people to be judged by the shape of their nose, rather than the content of their character.

Community Wiki, because my ulterior goal here is to explain why the original question is poorly formed.

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    There are correlations between everything. The real question is whether the correlations are high enough to make accurate predictions.
    – Christian
    Commented Dec 15, 2012 at 14:58
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    @Christian: In theory, we could go through and provide evidence for each of the claims of the appearance of the Jew's nose from this (warning: offensively racist) German World War II propagada and then evidence for what percentage of people with these features agree with the characterisation of Jews from that same source (or others). However, I am confident that this is not what the OP actually wanted in an answer. I am trying to illustrate that the question is not written in a form that attracts meaningful answers. We should fix it.
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Dec 15, 2012 at 15:13
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    I think it would be interesting to know whether judging people based on a theory about their nose is more or less accurate than judging people intuitively. Also German World War II propagada is not an trustworthy source that describes how frequently Jewish people have big noses. It's also no good source for the different personality that correlate with race.
    – Christian
    Commented Dec 15, 2012 at 15:22
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    If the goal is simply fixing the question, why answer in form of an answer instead of writing comments? I thought we want only answers that really answer the question?
    – Christian
    Commented Dec 15, 2012 at 15:23
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    Agreed: The propaganda was an example of the claim, not the evidence. I initially provided a comment, and the OP didn't understand my point. I started writing this as a second comment, but it grew too large, so I thought this experimental approach might be more fruitful. (To date: Nope.)
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Dec 15, 2012 at 15:41

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