UT Dallas Students Expose Stereotypes Given to Body Shapes

You can't judge a book by its cover, but studies in psychology have shown that people make judgements, even important decisions like choosing elected officials, based on someone's looks. 

Studies on stereotyping someone by their looks or clothing aren't new, but researchers at the University of Texas at Dallas set out to find out what body shapes may tell others, whether it's accurate or not.

The study used 140 gray, 3D models with the same face and pose, split evenly between male and female. 

Participants were given 30 adjectives - words such as “anxious,” “dominant” and “disorganized,” that they could assign to that body shape.

Participants consistently linked pear-shaped female models and broad-shouldered male models with extraversion and irritability, traits classified as active personalities. 

More rectangular male and female models were presumed to be more passive, being described as trustworthy, shy and warm.

While the study makes a statement about the reliability of these perceived links, the researchers said any connection between body type and personality has not been substantiated. 

However, presumptions still exist.

"These stereotypes develop so young. I think we spoonfeed children, from cartoons and characters, that 'Cinderella' looks a certain way and acts a certain way, and 'Cruella Deville' looks a certain way and acts a certain way. I don't think we are born with these steroptypes. I think society trains them with the images we get presented and the associated charateristics," said Dr. Alice O’Toole, professor of cognition and neuroscience and director of the Face Perception Research Lab.

Doctoral student Ying “Nina” Hu's paper was published in Pschological Science.

You can read more here.

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