back to article Can you tell a man's intelligence simply by looking at him? Yes

A group of Czech researchers has conducted a study in which they determined that the perceived intelligence of men correlates strongly with their actual intelligence – but the same doesn't hold true for women. "Both men and women were able to accurately evaluate the intelligence of men by viewing facial photographs," the …

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  1. Martin Budden Bronze badge

    I remember there was an El Reg article a few weeks ago about wider male faces being more attractive. Now this study says narrower male faces are a good indicator of higher IQ. Put the two together, and the conclusion has to be that intelligent males are unattractive (and vice versa).

    1. Rustident Spaceniak
      Holmes

      Beat me to it! (1.4.)

      What the two studies together infer would go a long way towards explaining the sorry state of society. If indeed the very traits that make men attractive to women and influential correlate with their being less than average intelligent, why, we're all doomed!

      Glad to see it's April 1st.

      1. Nuke
        Holmes

        @Rustident Spaceniak - Re: Beat me to it! (1.4.)

        Wrote :- "If very traits that make men attractive to women and influential correlate with their being less ... intelligent"

        I thought it was an obvious fact these days, especially as women no longer need to depend on men for income. Above all, women prefer men I would describe as "entertainers". Ape-like bumbling idiots who are always getting into trouble are more entertaining to be with than quiet thinkers. The "toy-boy" is a stereotype of that. Women often claim they prefer intelligent men, but they tend not to reach that phase until their 40's; I am uni educated but found it a negative point with girls - such that I never even told most of my GFs.

        Of course, being dim is also more likely to put men in situations where they meet more women - washing-up in restaurants, cleaning, factory assembly lines.

        1. Fink-Nottle

          Re: @Rustident Spaceniak - Beat me to it! (1.4.)

          > being dim is also more likely to put men in situations where they meet more women - washing-up in restaurants, cleaning, factory assembly lines.

          <cringe>

          If you think you're more likely to find women washing up, cleaning or performing other menial work, then your uni level 'education' may not be the reason women shun you...

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: @Rustident Spaceniak - Beat me to it! (1.4.)

          > situations where they meet more women - washing-up in restaurants, cleaning, factory assembly lines.

          Friend of mine was asking me about good pick-up places the other day. I'll forward your list.

      2. Eddy Ito Silver badge

        Re: Beat me to it! (1.4.)

        Glad to see it's April 1st.

        But the linked paper was apparently published March 20. I'm really beginning to wonder about the fun of April 1st. I mean as reality gets stranger than the pranks I'm beginning to wonder if I should actually expect to run into a pokemon on Charleston Rd.

    2. Anonymous Coward 101

      From the paper:

      "We found no effect of IQ on perceived attractiveness, either for men ... or for women."

    3. Fun Fun
      Meh

      Yeah

      From a girly perspective, blunter chaps are easier to steer to a wanted direction and to perform a desired task. Equals a nice and happy relationship.

  2. Nick Ryan Silver badge

    Also, don't forget the article a few weeks ago that mathematics is sexy.

    ...and that it's the 1st of April :)

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Erm... that's genuine... the sexy equations thing. I used to work in that lab.

  3. swampdog

    Methinks this is a case of over analyzing.

    I, as a bloke, prefer men who smile. I'm less likely to get beaten up! There's also a greater chance of a decent conversation. As for females I really do think they've missed the mark. Typically, if they're in a stable relationship, they minimize eye contact & certainly don't go wandering about smiling at everybody. They've ignored social conditioning in the study.

    1. WatAWorld

      Do you like men who are perpetually smiling, the way most white collar women are?

      Or do you like men who crack a smile when they talk to you?

      In my experience in urban areas in most of Canada and the USA most women go wandering around smiling. They're not smiling at anyone, they're simply smiling pretty much all the time. Generally there is nothing flirtatious about it and being happily married for 20 years with 4 kids doesn't change it.

      In rural areas women act more like men, cracking a smile when there is a reason to and straight-faced otherwise.

      Women over a certain age, maybe 60, are another exception, usually straight-faced.

      And while what I say has probably been true for a couple of decades, I don't pretend that it is some immutable human characteristic that appears at all times for all ages and races and places.

      This is the problem with junk science, it extrapolates to an absurd level.

      1. Identity
        Childcatcher

        Some years ago...

        in a thoroughly unscientific study of National Geographic magazines, which frequently ran photos of tribal societies, a reader found that young men looked fierce —they had to be aggressive to be good hunters and warriors— which was apparently attractive to the young women, who were smiling and looked demure. Older men looked happy and relaxed while older women looked bitter.

      2. Number6
        Coat

        In my experience in urban areas in most of Canada and the USA most women go wandering around smiling. They're not smiling at anyone, they're simply smiling pretty much all the time.

        Is that because the make-up has set solid?

        Will grab my coat and run...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      > I, as a bloke, prefer men who smile. I'm less likely to get beaten up!

      Until you meet a sadist. :)

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This is all well and good

    but doesn't explain horses.

    1. swampdog

      Re: This is all well and good

      Horses have a big "agenda".

      1. Chika

        Re: This is all well and good

        You can tell by the plot.

      2. Number6

        Re: This is all well and good

        Horses have a big "agenda".

        Not heard it called that before...

  5. Charles Manning

    Can't tell with a woman

    No wonder. We never look at their faces ... well that's what I keep on being told anyway.

    1. swampdog

      Re: Can't tell with a woman

      Chestwise, and my beloved (not you Charles), I drew (markerpen style) a pair of eyes onto her breasts when she was drunk. The plan is obvious. She was to open the door & one of my friends would gaze downward. She, being a feminist at the time, would retort then we'd all have a laugh.

      Buggered that one up. She had a shower. Bloody women with their cleanliness!

    2. VinceH Silver badge

      Re: Can't tell with a woman

      "No wonder. We never look at their faces ... well that's what I keep on being told anyway."

      You mean those aren't their faces?

      Oops.

  6. mythicalduck
    Facepalm

    Narrow faces means they haven't eaten enough cake, that's all.

    1. Ralph B

      The intelligent know that the cake is a lie.

      1. Chika

        Next you'll be telling us that you took an arrow to the knee...

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Narrow faces means they haven't eaten enough cake, that's all.

      Which is a massive sign of lack of intelligence.

      Therefore we have a paradox here. No sane and intelligent person would deny themselves cake. Therefore the study must be wrong. And needs to re-test with more people.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Our raters were able to estimate intelligence with an accuracy higher then chance from static facial photographs of men but not from photos of women,"

    The only surprising thing here is the inability to predict intelligence of women just by looking at them. I'm not surprised about the ability to predict the intelligence of men by looking at them. A lot of people are were just plain screwed together wrong. You can see this if you walk around the town centre of some impoverished dump in the early afternoon on a weekday.

    1. wowfood

      I imagine it's because of the stereotype with women. Y'know more attractive or blond etc the dumber the stereotype says they are. I've seen plenty of girls whoa re attractive and intelligent, plenty who are attractive and dumb as bricks, the same for the less attractive.

      Guys it's kind've more obvious. Most of my friends who I thought would do well in life are doing well, lots of my friends I guessed would be on minimum wage suck jobs are. And of course there's always the one who you think will do well because they're smart, and then they turn into NEETs.

      1. Peter Simpson 1
        Happy

        ...attractive and dumb as bricks...

        Cause, or effect? If they know they can get anything they want with a jiggle and a smile, why bother to learn anything? Starts early, too.

        My beloved is average looking and quite intelligent.

        // Oh, hello, dear! Didn't see you there.

    2. dogged

      > "Our raters were able to estimate intelligence with an accuracy higher then chance from static facial photographs of men but not from photos of women,"

      So can I, based on the presence or otherwise of a baseball cap.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "impoverished dump... etc"

      This goes doubly so for unemployment payday. But we aren't supposed to know that - or at least think that. Not PC.

  8. Rosie Davies
    Facepalm

    And the 18th Century Says

    Oooo, look! Phrenology!

    Rosie

    1. DropBear Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: And the 18th Century Says

      The main problem is that this doesn't seem to be an "April 1st" thing. Anyway, if anyone wants to test that theory - there's my photo... -->

    2. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: And the 18th Century Says

      Or in more modern guise: plastic surgery as retrophrenology!

  9. Fink-Nottle

    "Prolonged nose", eh?

    Do you suffer from inteligentile dysfunction ...

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I have a strong theory that when a couple have their first child, their IQ drops by a 33% and their level of selfishness and belief of self-entitlement goes up by at least 150%. This is irrespective of gender or face shape.

    1. Squander Two

      Parenthood

      No, people become far less selfish when they have kids; they have to. They only appear to you to become more selfish because the person whose needs they always put ahead of their own isn't you.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Parenthood

        Ooh... Middle class dad spotted.

        1. Squander Two

          Re: Parenthood

          Yes. And?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Parenthood

            And do you expect everyone else to make allowances for you because you've managed to procreate? Like putting up with your screaming kids in pubs and on trains because 'they're only expressing themselves'? Like expecting your colleagues to take up the slack because you're doing something with your kids. If you're honestly not like this, then I salute you, and no offence is meant.

            But so many parents nowadays become dumb, selfish, myopic bores as soon as they have kids.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Parenthood

              "so many parents ... selfish, myopic bores... kids"

              So says the 40 year old with no kids.

            2. mrjohn

              Re: Parenthood

              who will look after you in your dotage?

            3. Squander Two

              Re: Parenthood

              > And do you expect everyone else to make allowances for you because you've managed to procreate? Like putting up with your screaming kids in pubs and on trains because 'they're only expressing themselves'? Like expecting your colleagues to take up the slack because you're doing something with your kids. ... But so many parents nowadays become dumb, selfish, myopic bores as soon as they have kids.

              So many non-parents these days want to live in a child-free world and are unwilling to accept even the mildest brief inconvenience because they honestly seem to believe that because they personally have opted not to have children, no children should ever appear in their lives. They want children banned from trains and restaurants and anywhere else they might see them. If a child is severely injured and has to be taken to hospital, they want their parents to be forced to stay at work rather than go look after them, because Heaven forfend that one of their non-parent colleagues might have to work slightly harder that day. And what all these non-parents have in common is that the stuff they want parents to stop doing, their parents did for them. Do you ever complain about how awful it was that your parents' colleagues occasionally had to cover for them because you were involved in some sort of emergency? Thought not. Your sopposedly principled stance is nothing more than pulling up the ladders, yet you accuse parents of selfishness. I stand by my original comment, and you appear to be setting out to prove me right. Try some self-awareness.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Parenthood

                I think you are mis-reading the issue.

                As a married non-parent, we (the wife and myself) want a world where parents are RESPONSIBLE for the actions of their children. But the problem is, there is a seeming majority of parents that allow their children to do whatever they want with the mis-guided believe that telling little "johnny" that they should not be bad works.

                Of course, it does work with SOME children... But a parent that takes their responsibilities as a parent seriously and understand that when it comes to reprimanding and disciple, there is no "one size fits all". Speaking for myself again, my sister (older) was more inclined to be more fearful and so the threat of disciple and reason would keep her quiet, where I was the sort that reason with a couple of lashes to drive home the point (no pun intended) would keep me quiet. But it takes a parent to USE those tools. And since we don't have a world any more that most parents be PARENTS.. we (the childless) are more inclined to have a blanket ban..

                Unreasonable.. perhaps.. but its not fair that the burden of discomfort is at the whim of biological promiscuity. I don't mind a little extra discomfort if most parents didn't feel that because of a child they are ENTITLED to perks.

                Notice, I used words like most or some, because this will never apply to EVERY parent (or every childless couple, or even single person).. but I am speaking of my opinion based on my experiences.

    2. Uffish

      Re: new parents syndrome

      That's just chronic lack of sleep.

  11. WatAWorld

    To call the extrapolation invalid is putting it lightly.

    More junk "social science" that studies a few dozen undergraduates at one university in one city in one country, over a span of less than 6 months, and makes claims about the characteristics of all of humanity all over the world in perpetuity.

    1. Gordon 10 Silver badge

      Re: To call the extrapolation invalid is putting it lightly.

      Agreed - even if it was a biology degree how wide is the IQ spread going to be? Sorta self limiting to a particular demographic.

  12. WatAWorld

    Another reason its junk science

    ""The subjects were instructed to adopt a neutral, non-smiling expression," the paper details, "and avoid facial cosmetics, jewellery, and other decorations."

    Subjects would have had only limited experience seeing women's faces in such a condition, whereas that is the normal condition of men's faces.

    In most of urban Canada and the USA, one seldom sees a woman's face. Instead one sees her makeup.

  13. Chris Holford
    Boffin

    Well, it is April 1st, ... but...

    -the paper referred to looks real enough.

    BUT, the small sample of subjects was drawn from university students who might be expected to have fairly high IQs. I wonder what the results would be if a larger sample more representative of the general population had been used

  14. Uwe Dippel

    Only me?

    Is it only me that perceives the images in the article as looking increasingly friendly, from left to right?

    They are also said to increase the IQ from left to right.

    Does that mean the more friendly one is, the higher one's IQ?

    1. chris lively

      Re: Only me?

      Nope. Not just you.. and not just the photos either. The drawings have the same progression to the expressions.

      Please ignore that each set is the same person that's just been digitally altered. I'm guessing the middle picture of each is the original photo, but that's only a guess.

      Total BS.

    2. Fluffy Bunny
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Only me?

      They look more friendly because there is a progression from a very slight frown to a very slight smile.

    3. Austhinker

      Re: Only me?

      Or the higher the IQ, the more likely to be friendly?

  15. Nuke

    No real Dipsticks here?

    "The study was based on .. biology students at Charles University in Prague"

    So these were all intelligent people (unless the admission standards are *really* inclusive). Not just a small sample but a narrow band sample. Get back to me when they include some real dipsticks

    1. Squander Two

      Re: No real Dipsticks here?

      It's the same basic methodological flaw as almost every psychological study: We studied these students in their early twenties because they were conveniently near our psychology department buildings and willing to volunteer, and discovered this interesting result about everyone on Earth.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: No real Dipsticks here?

      > (unless the admission standards are *really* inclusive)

      I assure you that they are not--as befits a system where higher education is still free.

      I don't know if that means those who get in are more intelligent, but hard working bastards they definitely are.

  16. MondoMan
    FAIL

    Bogus methodology

    If you read the paper, they used a quadratic(!) model rather than a linear model for the correlation between facial attractiveness and IQ. Looking at their graph, not only are the data points clearly NOT forming anything like a parabola, but their computed parabola implies that past a certain point, more attractiveness would imply a *lower* IQ!

    I guess the lesson is that given sufficiently noisy/scattered data, you can force it into any model you want.

  17. This post has been deleted by its author

  18. Amorous Cowherder
    Facepalm

    What an utter crock!

    It was only 175 years ago that "scientists" claimed black people were less intelligent simply because their navels were positioned slightly differently from white people's!

    I thought we had moved from tin-pot, fag-packet science, obviously not. Next thing they're be telling us astrology actually has some basis in fact!

  19. Jim 59

    "...based on still photos of 40 male and 40 female"

    Just 80 subjects and the males were a different age range to the females. Not scientific.

    Also in the example photos, the male is simply frowning in the first photo and smiling in the last.

  20. magnetik
    WTF?

    So which of those three boxes does Stephen Hawking fit in?

  21. Identity
    Stop

    Another problem

    Is it just me, or do the catchlights in the eyes appear brighter the more supposedly intelligent the subject? In art class they told us that it was these reflections that gave the appearance of life to a portrait.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yeah, well, I mean, innit.

    in my chubbier times, I look 'more attractive' - if I'm any judge - which I imagine translates as looking healthier. We've been given to believe, generally speaking, that when looking for a mate we look for this. One would think this applies more to what men look for in a woman, while women are more inclined to look for indications of 'success', i.e. men look for child-rearing 'ability' while women look for 'bread-winning'. Personally, while a pretty face and a big pair of churns certainly have their appeal, what turns me on is intelligence; though it took me a long time to realize that, so maybe it's a learning process; part of becoming 'mature'.

    I'm tempted to distrust confirmation of a correlation between perceived and actual intelligence in males as confirmation bias - which of course the whole point of this study would have been to eliminate; but what if the character of males develops according to how they perceive others as perceiving them? That is, to the point of 'failing' IQ Tests solely because they don't have the self-belief not to?

    What about women, who almost universally from school-age onwards develop deviousness, as exemplified by the use of make-up? There are plenty of examples of 'beautiful' women who are dim as two short candles and plenty of women of a certain ungainly visage on sink housing estates, but are the latter all or even mostly all dumb as a red-arse monkey, or are they just there because men tend to go for looks so they can only get men too stupid to themselves have a choice? Are slappers having cat-fights at the Benefits Office actually as intellectually-gifted as they are physically attractive, or do they sound and behave like lady troglodites because that was the demographic they were born into? How would we know, given how unlikely it is that they would either apply for - let alone get - an intellectually-challenging job, or volunteer for a study by the local University?

    Maybe it is different in Czechoslovakia? It isn't Russia, but we all know Russia is full of beautiful women who grow old and turn into shot-putters. And what about universally-perceived beauty? What does the wide-spread use of hair-straightening products among those with naturally curly hair of, typically, African origin, say of this? Is the seemingly universal ideal of long, more-or-less straight hair merely a consequence of the spread of caucasian culture courtesy of Hollywood (and the computer gaming industry) and is that an indicator of gullibility, or of aforementioned deviousness (and what is the implied intelligence of someone who alters their appearance to improve their options while unable, presumably due to an unremarkable education, to articulate this?).

    I used to have a girlfriend who would have scored average on an IQ Test, though she was real sharp, and I thought - at the time - her exceptional ability to succeed socially - with it's implied survival positives - meant that she was highly intelligent, regardless of what the unimaginative majority would have. Of course, IQ Testing measures a more specific interpretation of intelligence; almost to the point, I suspect - as with Mensa membership - to being designed for the self-glorification of those who tout it ("You wouldn't let me join, you blackballing bastards!" Heh. I'd be more inclined to accept a member of Mensa as having an exceptional intellect if they could do a Silly Walk, but then, I'm "a brother to the ox, in spades!").

    OK. Bored now.

    1. Peter Simpson 1
      Mushroom

      Re: Yeah, well, I mean, innit.

      ...Russia is full of beautiful women who grow old and turn into shot-putters.

      I believe that's referred to as the "babushka bomb" effect.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Yeah, well, I mean, innit.

      > Maybe it is different in Czechoslovakia? It isn't Russia, but we all know Russia is

      Czechoslovakia hasn't existed for over twenty years, of course it never was Russia in the same way England is not Germany, and no, we all do not know whatever you claim to know about Russia.

      Although I admit I do have a weakness for Russian women. :(

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

  23. zb
    Joke

    The quality of comments is depressing

    I started reading full of enthusiasm expecting to find up some new dumb blonde jokes. Nothing, zilch, nada! The El Reg readers have disappointed me.

  24. Jamie Jones Silver badge
    Windows

    I don't know......

    It started in school, when someone came to give a talk on apprenticeships, and was surprised to hear that I was going to University.....

    And continues throughout my adult career when people (both in and out of the field) say that they are surprised as I don't look like I'm good with computers..

    p.s. Post icon is being used for non-windows purposes!

  25. skeptical i

    Interesting to see how other (i.e., non-Czech) people rate the photos.

    My supposition being there might be some subconscious bias for "people who look more like me", with those looking more stereotypically Czech/ Slavic rating more highly among presumably Czech scorers. Would there be similar results if these photos were shown to students in Beijing or Mexico City?

  26. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

    I perceive you, Sir

    To be as dumb as a garden bench - it's all written in your face. Sir.

  27. druck Silver badge

    Neanderthal

    It would seem from the images that the less Neanderthal (heavy set brows and prominent jaw) you look, the more intelligent you appear. We all still have up to 3% Neanderthal DNA, so selection is not based on the appearance of intelligence alone.

  28. southpacificpom

    Bollocks!

    Article posted 1st April - sounds like a load of old bollocks to me...

    This research (if valid) should be filed along with "men with bigger feet have bigger penises" study and put into the circular folder.

  29. Austhinker

    Insufficient Data

    Other posters have mentioned various flaws in the study, including the probable relatively narrow range if IQ in the photo subjects.

    In relation to the preceived attractiveness/intelligence correlation, researchers may have been looking at the wrong thing. It may not be perceived intelligence per se that influences perceived attractiveness, but rather intelligence match/mismatch to the perceiver, so a more intelligent viewer might see an apparently intelligent person as more attractive, whilst a less intelligent viewer might see them as less attractive. This could totally screw up a search for a simple correlation if the viewers are of diverse levels of intelligence.

    Another thing is that a still image doesn't give as many clues as an animated (real life) view, even before you throw in a conversation.

    This study provides interesting and potentially useful preliminary data, assuming this sort of information is worth the effort, but would need to be built on with much more comprehensive studies.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "...a narrower face with a thinner chin and a larger prolonged nose characterizes the predicted stereotype of high-intelligence, while a rather oval and broader face with a massive chin and a smallish nose characterizes the prediction of low-intelligence..."

    This explains the friction between Conan O'Brien and Jay Leno, then.

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