People Can Tell Whether You're Rich or Poor By Looking At Your Face

What can you tell just by looking at someone's face? Can you tell where they're from? Where they've been? How smart they are? How old they are? Their life's history?

Well, a new study says that we all make snap judgments about people's wealth, and apparently, those judgments are generally correct. 

A study published in Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that people can tell whether you're rich or poor just from looking at your face. Basically, having money means people have more comforts in life, and not worrying about financial security frees people from anxiety and allows them to live happier lives. In contrast, people who are poor are constantly struggling to make ends meet, and this leads to high stress and often labor-intensive work that shows up on their faces.

For the study, R. Thora Bjornsdottir and Nicholas O. Rule of the University of Toronto showed students gray-scale pictures of 80 white men and 80 white females. The people in the photos had neutral expressions. Half of the people made six-figure salaries and were deemed wealthy while the other half made less than $35,000 a year and were determined to be working class.

The students surveyed were of various races, and they correctly guessed the subjects' wealth 68% of the time, which was a better odd than random chance. 

"People are not really aware of what cues they are using when they make these judgments," Bjornsdottir said to the University of Toronto. "If you ask them why, they don't know. They are not aware of how they are doing this."

When researchers showed participants photos of the people visibly happy, they were unable to gauge wealth, signaling that folks equate happiness with having money. 

"Over time, your face comes to permanently reflect and reveal your experiences," Rule told the University of Toronto. "Even when we think we're not expressing something, relics of those emotions are still there."