I'd like to play a little game.
It’s called, how well do you trust your intuition?
You are about to see 15 pictures of male faces, some of whom are criminals, and some of whom are not. They are taken from a study that was published in the Journal of Social, Evolutionary, and Cultural Psychology.
Can you guess who’s guilty?
Valla J, Ceci S, Williams W. The accuracy of inferences about criminality based on facial appearances. Journal of Social, Evolutionary, and Cultural Psychology. 2011;5(1)66-91. doi:10.1037/h0099274
And the guilty people are…
Subject 1: Not guilty
Subject 2: Drug dealer
Subject 3: Assailant
Subject 4: Rapist
Subject 5: Not guilty
Subject 6: Not guilty
Subject 7: Arsonist
Subject 8: Drug dealer
Subject 9: Rapist
Subject 10: Rapist
Subject 11: Not guilty
Subject 12: Not guilty
Subject 13: Arsonist
Subject 14: Not guilty
Subject 15: Assailant
How’d you do?
The participants who were initially tasked with identifying the criminals intuited correctly 60% of the time. But there was just one caveat: the female participants were far less likely to identify the rapist than the male participants, even though the women correctly identified all other types of criminals with equal accuracy.
There is a theory for this. The researchers believe that those who “successfully” raped were only able to do so because they don’t come across as criminals, and were therefore able to get close enough to their victims.
Charles Darwin was one of the first to draw conclusions about cognitive evolution and our abilities to size people up accurately upon first impression. Within milliseconds of meeting someone, we subconsciously and automatically judge their personality, their behaviors, and even their sexual orientation.
The jury is still out on which facial features are reliable indicators of the dark triad personalities. Judging from these pictures, my best guess is that it’s all in the eyes (and the eyebrows), and possibly the orientation of the mouth.
Trust yourself. You’re more clued in than you think.