Can you tell someone’s personality temperament by looking at their face? The answer is yes. Because personality has a genetic component, there are some physical cues that rise to the surface. One of the most easily recognized (at least for me) is the difference between the Myers Briggs dichotomy of Thinking versus Feeling types.
As you recall, the Feeling/Thinking dichotomy is about the method that people make decisions. The feelers typically rely on a gut instinct rather than on a rigid logical argument. They are more emotional and use more “terms of endearment” when they talk to others. For example, you might go to a restaurant and the waitress may lightly touch your shoulder as she stands behind you as she takes your order. She may also say “honey” rather than ma’am when addressing you or others in your party. People with the feeling preference are more likely to be described as soft and emotionally warm.
On the other hand, those people with the thinking preference are much more logical in the way they make decisions. Like Spock from Star Trek, they are emotionally more distant and may feel cold and more direct to the point.
While you may have heard that, what is less widely known is that there is a physical difference in the facial features between these two preferences.
Evolutionary biologist, Helen Fisher, of Rutgers University did a study of the hormones of people with different personality temperaments. What she found out is that those people with the NT temperament, who are by definition “thinking” types, have higher levels of testosterone in their bodies. This is in agreement with DeYoung and Gray (see reference below), who writes:
“Testosterone is linked to aggression, and evidence exists to suggest that higher exposure to testosterone is linked to reduced Agreeableness.”
In the Big-5 personality system, the Feeling/Thinking spectrum is called the “Agreeableness” trait.
Basically, people that have the “Thinking” trait have high levels of testosterone in there system.
How Testosterone Changes the Body
Having higher levels of testosterone is significant, as it is known from other studies that testosterone changes the features of the body. People with higher levels of testosterone have facial features that are more masculine in appearance.
And that is the clue you can use when you are typing someone’s personality:
If they have masculine facial features, they are very likely to have the thinking trait. If they have feminine features, it is the opposite, they have the feeling trait.
This one clue allows you to completely eliminate a temperament from contention when you are typing someone. You can eliminate either the NT’s (called the Strategist temperament), or the NF group (called the Morale Officer temperament). That is pretty significant, because it increases the odds of typing correctly by 25%.
What Does Masculine Look Like?
Most people can seem to gauge masculine versus feminine facial features. But I thought it would be good to review them anyway. Here are the differences as related by plastic surgeon Dr. Vartan Mardirossian on his web site: http://palmbeachplastics.com/7-features-of-a-feminine-face/
1. The Forehead
- Male foreheads are usually wider and higher than female foreheads.
- Males have a bony ridge running across the forehead and above the eyes. Females have a smooth forehead.
- Male foreheads are usually backwards sloping, whereas female foreheads are more vertical.
Everyone knows that males have thicker eyebrows than females, yet there are some other key differences:
- Male eyebrows possess a straighter shape, whereas female eyebrows are more arched.
- Males possess lower eyebrows than females. The eyebrows sit under the orbital rim on males, and above the orbital rim on women.
3. Appearance of the Eyes
- Because of the brow ridge, male eyes look more deep set than female eyes.
- Male eyelids appear more closed, providing the eyes a narrower appearance.
- Males have wider, longer noses, whereas female noses are more narrow and shorter.
- Males usually have arched or straight nose bridges, whereas female noses are usually more concave in profile.
- Males usually have flatter cheekbones, whereas females possess more prominent cheekbones.
- Females have more fat in their face, giving the cheeks a rounder, fuller look.
This feature is a little harder to point out, but you can see it in the image above in how light hitting the face creates shadows and reflective spots. Feminine faces have more reflective areas under the eye and near the nose than masculine faces.
- Male lips are usually thinner than female’s lips—especially the top lip.
- Distance between the nose’s base and top lip is usually longer in males.
7. Jawline and chin
- Males usually have longer chins than females.
- There often is a sharp angle in between a male’s jaw and chin, providing the chin a square appearance.
- Male chins usually have a flat base, whereas female chins are more pointed.
- Males have heavier, wider jaws than females.
I’ve included several images on this page so that you can compare and contrast these facial features. It is important to know what to look for, so you can defend your choice when it comes time to select the appropriate way to approach a Feeler vs Thinker.
Here are a couple more images to test your perception ability.
What if you can’t tell the difference on a person’s face?
When you’re starting out the typing process, look for faces that are strongly masculine or feminine. By seeing pronounced examples of the dichotomy, you’ll have a starting point from which you can compare and contrast.
But there will be a lot of times when you can’t tell if a face leans toward masculine or feminine. This is normal. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, for a person to be pegged toward one side of the continuum on a trait is less likely than being in the middle. What this means, is that a lot of faces will be hard to tell the difference between masculine or feminine.
An example is someone like Natalie Portman. It is reported that she has facial features that are very close to “average.” This makes her very attractive to a broad range of tastes. But it hides her personality type, because you can’t tell if she is a Thinker or a Feeler.
It does take practice; a lot of it. Use the seven different areas listed above as a checklist of sorts. If the person has 4 masculine features and three feminine features, you’d probably lean toward the person having the Thinking trait.
But there will be some doubt. So you’ll have to look at other clues to type them accurately. If you need help, you’ll find them listed in the book: “Selling by Personality Type.”
DeYoung, Colin G., and Jeremy R. Gray. “Personality neuroscience: Explaining individual differences in affect, behavior, and cognition.” The Cambridge handbook of personality psychology (2009): 323-346. http://www.yale.edu/scan/DeYoung_Gray_personality_neuroscience.pdf