Of course, this is only a bit of fun, but presumably you can tell how bright a person is just by looking at them? Such confident judgments are anathema to proper clinical psychologists, who would rather spend an hour giving a Wechsler intelligence test than stoop to such populist nonsense.
Now Karel Kleisner email@example.com Veronika Chvátalová, and Jaroslav Flegr have decided to put this silly stereotype to the test in a PLOS One paper “Perceived Intelligence Is Associated with Measured Intelligence in Men but Not Women” and find it not so silly, at least as far as men’s faces are concerned. (As my readers already know, a stereotype is an insight waiting to be proved.) Perhaps the girls are so exclusively judged on prettiness that their intellectual countenances are ignored, whilst boy’s faces can be judged for both intellectual and sexual purposes.
Let us get the criticisms in quickly. The sample size is small (n=160), and more importantly the faces are from university students and the raters are also university students (mean IQ 125 sd 17). This could be a case of bright people recognising other bright people. There is a restriction of range problem, and the authors should try a representative sample of faces and raters, and are likely to get better results.
I presume no-one was photographed with glasses on, though they “avoided cosmetics, jewellery and other decorations”. On the plus side, they have published their entire data set.
In general, I like the way the authors have presented this paper. They admit that their method of analysing the composition of faces shows no relation to measured IQ, yet that there must be something about the pictures of the men’s faces which allows the positive predictions of their intelligence to be generated. The authors say that this must be due to a cultural stereotype. Weak argument. Where on earth would such a “stereotype” come from? If cultural stereotypes mean anything they would be random, and have low predictive power. This reliance on the notion of “cultural stereotype” is a crucial misunderstanding on their part, because it does not explain how a correct stereotype comes about, other than by someone noticing something which is true.
Their line of best quadratic fit I found something of a disappointment. Above IQ 140 the strength of the prediction falls considerably, and these paragons of intellect are seen as pretty stupid. In statistical terms these outliers are freaks, so in evolutionary terms it might not be worth detecting them. Or they carry so much mutation load that they look awful.
In both sexes, a narrower face with a thinner chin and a larger prolonged nose characterizes the predicted stereotype of high-intelligence, while a rather oval and broader face with a massive chin and a smallish nose characterizes the prediction of low-intelligence.
Do you have a gracile face? For once in my life my larger nose seems to be a benefit in generating a positive stereotype about me. Do you look like the clever person you actually are, deep inside? If you wish to comment, please append a photograph. If you are over IQ 140 you may omit the photo.