Article Nov 02, 2018

You are no longer passing

People make snap decisions about others based on their body shapes

Have you ever looked at someone and judged them on their looks - or more specifically their figures?

Well, you're not alone, as a new study has found that we jump to conclusions based on people's body shapes.

Conducted by a team at The University of Texas at Dallas, 76 undergraduate students were recruited to take part.

"We wanted to know whether we could link personality descriptor words to body shape in predictable ways," said first author Ying Hu. "That is, do people look at a person's body and make snap judgements about whether the person is lazy, enthusiastic, or irritable?"

Researchers created 140 realistic body models, 70 male and 70 female, for the test group to look at. The body shapes were viewed at two different angles and 30 trait words were shown on screen, with the students asked to pick which words applied to the body they were looking at.

Results showed heavier bodies were matched with more negative traits such as laziness and carelessness, and skinnier bodies with more positive traits including confidence and enthusiasm.

Pear-shaped women and broad-shouldered men were both linked to active traits. And non-standard male and female bodies were linked to passive traits including being shy, trustworthy and dependable.

"To our knowledge, this is the first study to consider the role of more nuanced aspects of body shape - beyond height and weight - in personality judgements about people," said co-author Dr. Alice O'Toole.