The study tested how good we are at assessing a stranger’s personality in a few minutes.
The personalities of happy, confident people are particularly easy to read at first glance, a study finds.
It may be because happier people are more likely to project their true personalities.
However, even the personalities of those lower in well-being are relatively easy to read, the research revealed.
The study tested the ability to assess other people’s personality when speed dating.
It emerged that most can make reasonably accurate judgements about major aspects of personality, such as how open, extraverted and agreeable another person is.
However, some people are much easier to read than others, said Ms Lauren Gazzard Kerr, the study’s first author:
“Some people are open books whose distinctive personalities can be accurately perceived after a brief interaction, whereas others are harder to read.
Strikingly, people who report higher well-being, self-esteem, and satisfaction with life tend to make the task easier.”
The study used a speed dating format in which 372 people met for the first time for only a few minutes.
Afterwards, they were each asked to rate the personalities of the person they had met.
The results revealed that the impressions they formed were generally accurate.
However, people were worse at judging the personalities of potential romantic partners than strangers in whom they had no romantic interest.
Perhaps nerves were getting in the way.
One thing emerged strongly: the personalities of happier people are easier to read at first glance.
Dr Lauren Human, study co-author, said:
“Perhaps people that have greater well-being behave in ways that are more in line with their personality — being more authentic or true to themselves.”
Alternatively, it may be that some people tend to be happier because their personalities are perceived more accurately by those they meet.
The researchers next want to find out why some people’s personalities are easier to read, explained Dr Human:
“Understanding why some people are able to be seen more accurately could help us determine strategies that other people could apply to enhance how accurately they are perceived.”
→ Read on: How to change your personality.
The study was published in the Journal of Research in Personality (Kerr et al., 2020).
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This site is all about scientific research into how the mind works.
It’s mostly written by psychologist and author, Dr Jeremy Dean.
I try to dig up fascinating studies that tell us something about what it means to be human.