When we meet new people, our first impressions of their personality may depend, at least in part, on their body shape, according to a new research.
The findings showed that people perceived classically feminine (pear-shaped) and classically masculine (broad-shouldered) bodies as being associated with "active" traits, such as being quarrelsome, extraverted, and irritable.
In addition, male and female bodies that were more rectangular, were associated with relatively passive traits, such as being trustworthy, shy, dependable, and warm.
"Our research shows that people infer a wide range of personality traits just by looking at the physical features of a particular body. Understanding these biases is important for considering how we form first impressions," said lead researcher Ying Hu from the University of Texas.
"We wanted to know whether we could link personality descriptor words to body shape in predictable ways," Hu added.
The study, published in the journal Psychological Science, highlighted that stereotypes based on body shape can contribute to how we judge and interact with new acquaintances and strangers.
For the study, the team created 140 realistic body models, among which 70 were female and 70 male.
The three-dimensional renderings were generated from random values along 10 different body dimensions, using data from laser scans of actual human bodies. Using these models allowed the researchers to know the precise physical measurements of each body.
A total of 76 undergraduate participants saw each body from two angles and indicated whether 30 trait words shown on a screen applied to that body.
The results showed that participants judged heavier bodies as being associated with more negative traits, such as being lazy and careless and judged lighter bodies as having more positive traits, such as being self-confident and enthusiastic.
The researchers also found that they could reliably predict personality trait judgments from specific combinations of different body shape features.