Researchers at the University of Kansas say that people can accurately judge 90% of a stranger's personality by simply looking at their shoes.
"Shoes convey a thin but useful slice of information about their wearers," the authors wrote in the new study published in the Journal of Research in Personality. "Shoes serve a practical purpose, and also serve as nonverbal cues with symbolic messages. People tend to pay attention to the shoes they and others wear."
Medical Daily reports that the number of detailed personality traits detected in the study include a person's age, their gender, income, political affiliation, and other personality traits, including someone's emotional stability.
Lead researcher Omri Gillath said the judgments were based on style, cost, color, and condition of someone's shoes. In the study, 63 University of Kansas students looked at pictures showing 208 different pairs of shoes worn by the study's participants. Volunteers in the study were photographed in their most commonly worn shoes, and then filled out a personality questionnaire.
So, what do your shoes say about your personality?
People with higher incomes wore expensive shoes, and flashier footwear was typically worn by extroverts. However, some of the more specific results are intriguing. For example, practical and functional shoes were generally worn by more "agreeable" people, while ankle boots were more closely aligned with "aggressive" personalities. The strangest of all may be that those who wore uncomfortable looking shoes tend to have "calm" personalities. There was also the political calculation that liberals wear shabbier and less expensive shoes.
"Shoes have a wide variety of styles, brands, looks, and functions. Because of this variety, shoes can carry individual difference information, but do they? We suggest the answer is yes," the study authors wrote.
And if you have several new pair of shoes or take exceptionally good care of them, you may suffer from "attachment anxiety", spending an inordinate amount of time worrying about what others think about your appearance.
The researchers noted that some people will chose shoe styles to mask their actual personality traits, but researchers noted that volunteers were also likely to be unaware that their footwear choices were revealing deep insights about their personalities.
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