It isn’t all about those priceless earrings, the expensive haircut or the jeans you actually picked up for only $5. If you’re wealthy or not, your face could give you away in an instant.
Feeling like you’ve got a good enough poker face to leave them guessing? Apparently, you don’t-at least when it comes to revealing certain monetary aspects of your life.
A recent study has shown that even when your face is at rest and you’re sharing a neutral expression with the world, you could actually be revealing your level of wealth.
Psychologists from the University of Toronto, Canada, came up with the somewhat strange findings.
They based their research on the fact that we, as humans, are hardwired to scan the scene in front of us for faces. We can’t help but look for them. As the lead researcher pointed out, we see them in clouds, toast, peanut butter, you name it.
And when we find them, (at least real human faces), we can read a lot into them.
It seems that, over time, what researchers are calling “life-long habits of expression”, become ingrained and etched on our faces in ways we don’t realize.
So, basically, if you grew up in a family that was always worrying about the bills and searching to figure out how to put enough food on the table, evidence of frequent anxiety is likely nestled permanently, someplace in your features.
Likewise, if freedom and happiness were and are common feelings in your life, and the ability to access all of your needs and most of your wants is the status quo, this will show up in your neutral face as well.
Anger, tension, arrogance, joy, exuberance- it’s all there apparently, if you look.
How did researchers discover this? Scientists simply divided study participants according to their family’s median annual income. People with total family incomes of under $60,000 formed one group, and those whose family earned over $100,000 each year, made another.
Researchers took photos of each individual with a neutral expression and then asked others to guess whether these guys fell into the richer or poorer category.
What did they find? The guessing was far from exact but, impressively, participants were able to determine which group the individuals belonged to simply based on their photo, about 53% of the time. It might sound pretty iffy, but it’s a level of accuracy that’s higher than what you’d get with random chance, and so researchers found it to be significant.
So, it’s all kind of interesting, but this is only the beginning of these types of studies. Researchers have no idea what tells us how rich or poor someone is, based on their face. Participants couldn’t explain why they made the judgments they did, and so much is still left to be discovered.
But how about this: researchers also discovered that once you smile or get angry, no one has a clue how much is in your bank account.
Apparently, any expression of emotion will throw off even the finest face reader. If you make a big show, it will make it impossible to tell from your face alone, if you’re actually rich or poor.
What’s the takeaway? The next time you walk into that interview or try to make the deal of a lifetime, remember, there’s another reason to smile (or, perhaps to start shouting).
Madonna was right: express yourself! No matter what you want to hide, emotion seems to be your best line of defense.
Photo credits: Rawpixel.com/Bigstock; Daxiao Productions; Voy/Bigstock