--Original published at NataliesCollegeBlog
As growing up in the world we live in today, the words “make a good first impression” is put in the back of everyone’s head. We present ourselves by dressing up nice for interviews and practice how to be talkative or friendly; yet, there are a lot of stereotypes and judgements made at first glance. It is common people make judgements off race and facial expressions, but what about body shape? Is it really true that people associate body figure to someone’s personality traits?
Ying Hu, a psychological scientist, and other researchers from the University of Texas questioned if stereotypes pertaining to body shape affect how someone judges and interacts with strangers. In the study, there were 76 undergraduate students participants from the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences at The University of Texas at Dallas. 140 simulated bodies created by CAESAR data set laser scans created 70 women and 70 men for the study. There was also a personality trait list that consisted of 30 trait words from each of the 5 domain types (extraversion conscientiousness, agreeableness, openness and neuroticism) with 3 positive and 3 negative words within each category. The participants would see an image from two views: frontal and at a 45° angle. Each participant was randomly assigned to rate one of the two sets of bodies by seeing 30 traits. The study would randomly assign each student to two different groups that had 35 female bodies and 35 male bodies, which were also randomly assigned.
After the research team collected all of the data, the study was able to conclude there are wide ranges of personality traits for every body shape. Also, personality interferences are formed from physical features in someone’s body shape. Overall, there is evidence that people tend to associate personality traits based on a person’s body shape. No matter where you go, how you look automatically gives you a reputation whether it is true or not. As a society, we are already body shaming people enough and it is shown through this research too. The fear that having a certain body type affects if a person gets a job over someone else is something that we should all be aware of and fix all together.
Once I wrote a pop culture newsletter article myself, there were a lot of things that I learned about. I now understand how hard it is for journalists to encapture data from research, and make the newsletter entertaining at the same time. Although my newsletter obtained the most important information from the study, it lacked the attention grabbing words and phrases that the original pop culture article had. In the article, I left out the smaller details of the study that talked about the Shape-To-Trait Regression Results. Although this is quality information, it is not necessary in the newsletter for the reader to understand the purpose of the experiment.
Comparing my summary to the news article, there were many things that were different. The article that I wrote about consisted more about the facts and data in the study, while the pop culture article used more direct quotes from the experimenter, Ying Hu, himself. The article was more conversational and kept the reader guessing compared to how the article I wrote was straight to the point. The news article also would add a sentence of entertainment in between the facts to make the reader keep reading. It makes the reader want to find out if they are being judged without even knowing. My article had attention grabbing sentences in the beginning but included the facts and covered all of the 5 critical questions, while the pop culture article did not.
After writing this article, I now have a better appreciation for journalists and writers. It can be very difficult at times to convey every single piece of data in an article when trying to make an attention grabbing storyline. I learned that it takes a lot of time to make something stand out and become published in the first place. This is possibly why certain details from research may not be included because of certain guidelines that need to be met by the organization that is publishing the article. It is hard to make an article entertaining without slang and informal terms. Although I now understand how tough it is to be entertaining and have data/hard facts, I still think that any good journalist would be able to provide both. Overall, this made me understand that writing articles based off research accurately is tough, which is why when reading articles everyone should look at the research too. It is just as important to read the research study that is provided along with the original article. This way the reader is able to make their own judgements by looking at multiple sources, rather than believing the first article is completely accurate.
Hu, Y., Parde, C. J., Hill, M. Q., Mahmood, N., & O’Toole, A. J. (2018). First Impressions of
Personality Traits From Body Shapes. Psychological Science, 29(12), 1969–1983.
Marquette, T. (2019, January 25). Study: Your Body Shape Leads People To Make
Assumptions About Your Personality Traits. Retrieved February 11, 2019, from