Can you tell a lot about someone just from looking at their shoes?

 

Yes. Someone’s age, gender, income, and attachment anxiety can be determined at an above chance level just by looking at photographs of their shoes.

Surprisingly minimal appearance cues lead perceivers to accurately judge others’ personality, status, or politics. We investigated people’s precision in judging characteristics of an unknown person, based solely on the shoes he or she wears most often. Participants provided photographs of their shoes, and during a separate session completed self-report measures. Coders rated the shoes on various dimensions, and these ratings were found to correlate with the owners’ personal characteristics. A new group of participants accurately judged the age, gender, income, and attachment anxiety of shoe owners based solely on the pictures. Shoes can indeed be used to evaluate others, at least in some domains.

Highlights

Ratings of shoes correlate with shoe owners’ personal characteristics.

► Age, income, and attachment anxiety can be judged from a picture of a person’s shoe.

► Shoes convey a thin but useful slice of information about their wearers.

Source: “Shoes as a source of first impressions” from Journal of Research in Personality, Volume 46, Issue 4, August 2012, Pages 423–430

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