“Your face, my Thane, is as a book where men may read strange matters.” So said Lady Macbeth to her nervous husband on the eve of their planned regicide. And while the rest of us may not have king-murdering schemes written across our features, all of our faces are vast repositories of information about the personalities that lurk behind them.
Personology is the science of reading faces, wherein a person’s sensibilities, preferences and values are expressed through the physical arrangement of her countenance. And, kneejerk scoffing at any association of scientific verity with this admittedly unorthodox approach to personality assessment notwithstanding, it is considered by many to be an entirely credible personality test. In fact, the scientific reality providing the basis for personology’s origins dates back to the days of the Pharaohs.
More recently, the personology story begins with an American post-Depression-era judge who noticed that the mugs of criminals parading through his courtroom shared a slew of physical features. So adept did this guy get at reading faces that he was actually able to predict the crime with which the accused were charged, before even glancing at the court docket.
Eventually, Robert L. Whiteside emerged as the modern pioneer of the movement. Under his direction, 68 basic traits were validated as accurate markers of personality to within a 1% error rate.
• Broad jaws: The wide-jawed among us are thought to be aggressive and authoritative, in both speech and action.
• Hair thickness: People with coarse hair are considered less emotionally sensitive than their fine-haired counterparts; untamed manes often crown free thinkers.
• Square chins: A product of testosterone, square chins are linked with combative personalities.
• Face width: A wide forehead indicates intelligence and a preoccupation with facts; a wide mid-face area betrays an ambitious soul; people with dominant mouths and chins are practical.
• Eye-eyebrow distance: Folks blessed with a significant space between their eyes and brows are methodical thinkers who commit to decisions slowly. Short-distance people are doers who no doubt regard their long-distance foils as ditherers.
• Cheekbones: Individuals with protruding cheekbones are courageous adventure seekers who are attracted to new ideas.
• Ear position: Ears set high on the head belong to people who work well under pressure. People with lower-set ears need directions spelled out slowly.
• Lip size: Big lips expose chatterers; small lips speak of cautious, quiet types with private inner lives.
• Eye width: Closely set eyes indicate intolerance and a facility for focusing; widely spaced eyes are the hallmarks of relaxed folks who keep the big picture in view.
• Forehead slope: A straight forehead is associated with people who follow directions methodically; people with sloped foreheads reach conclusions quickly, may be interruptive and have rapid reflexes.
• Eye depth: If you’re an observer, you likely own a pair of deeply set eyes. People with bulging eyes are more energetic and game for suggestion.
• Nose size: People with big noses are ambitious types who are often self-employed because they abhor subservience. Their smaller-nosed contemporaries are better factory workers, given their proclivity for routine tasks.