First Impressions of Personality Traits From Body Shapes 

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Although assumptions of personality types from facial appearance has been studied and proven to be present, the study of assuming a person’s personality type based on their body, has not received as much attention. In this study, the subjects were presented with 140 male and female body types(70 of each gender), that were created through computer generated 3-dimensional software. Along with the images, they were given a list of the same 30 words for each image. They were then instructed to select either the “yes” or “no” button next to the word, in the case that the description applied to the body they were viewing.


In the correspondence analysis study, “First Impressions of Personality Traits From Body Shapes”, the participants were undergraduate students from the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences at The University of Texas at Dallas, who would receive research credit in a Psychology course. There were 76 students selected, in which 17 were men, and 59 women. The sample size was chosen to ensure accuracy, reliability, and stability of the ratings given by the students.

To ensure this was the correct sample size, they first used a previous, similar experiment as a reference. They doubled the size of the study, then tested the results reliability using “bootstrap simulations”. The ratings from the simulation that were not stable, were omitted from the experiment.

The group of 140 simulated bodies in the experiment were created randomly by the SMPL model, or “skinned multi-person linear” model, which is a model that accurately creates a variety of different body types in a like pose, using a template mesh. This mesh had been created through laser-scanning 1,700 male and 2,100 female bodies, ages ranging and equally distributed between 18 and 65 years old.

These scans belong to the Civilian American and European Surface Anthropometry Resource (CAESAR) data set. The researchers then chose 140 bodies; the ones that they selected were based on how unique each one was to each other. They were not going to use two bodies that were slightly similar, but those where they can easily tell where the participant was deriving its interpretation from. For example, the first two body types that were generated can be obviously described based on their height and weight.

The bodies generated were then put into a natural standing position, and rendered through a program called Blender (which is used for 3D modeling), to create a frontal and 45º angle view of each selected body. Each subject was shown one of two sets of body types to reduce the workload; both containing 35 male and 35 female bodies. Each body was randomly assigned to a group, and each participant was randomly assigned to a set to review. Additionally, the order in which the bodies were presented were also randomized.

The list of 30 words that were to be shown along with the 3D generated bodies, was a modified version of the “Big Five” factors of personality, deriving from a study conducted in 2003. These Big Five personality traits include: openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeable, and neuroticism. The researchers chose the 20 traits from this study, which were said to be representative of personality types. Then, they added and changed words that were within each of the “Big Five” factors.

They ended with a list of 30 words, in which each could be categorized into each factor. There were 6 words from each; 3 positive and 3 negative. The words included were: enthusiastic, extraverted, quiet, reserved, dominant, shy, cooperative, warm, critical, quarrelsome, trustworthy, stubborn, dependable, self-disciplined, careless, disorganized, careful, lazy, calm, easy-going, irritable, anxious, self-confident, moody, curious, open, conventional, rigid, intelligent, and simple-minded.

The study was linear, conducted on a computer, showing each participant one body(out of 70) at a time, from a frontal and 45º angle. The list of 30 words was shown to the right, with a “yes” and a “no” button next to each word. The buttons were not set to a default answer, so there was no influence on their choices present. The subject was then instructed to select yes or no for each of the 30 words. Once complete with assessing the current body, they were to click the button that says “next body”, and repeat the process for all 70 images. There was no time limit for this experiment, it was self paced.


The findings of this study presented a wide variety of personality traits inferred from body shapes; the inferences were primarily based on physical features only. As previously mentioned, each type of trait was determined based on the Big Five personality types: openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeable and neuroticism. The researchers tested the predicted traits from the viewpoints of attractiveness(valence) and sense of control(agency).

For both men and women, determining the attractiveness for a body shape was linked with body weight. The traits studied here were about conscientiousness, one of the five domains of the Big Five personality types. The research found that the slimmer body types were said to be more self-disciplined and careful, while the heavier bodies seemed careless, disorganized and lazy. The link between the body types and use of conscientious traits might reflect the judgements of lifestyle choices, such as a slimmer person having a healthier diet, and routinely exercising.

Those who possessed traits related to high agency were said to be less rectangular, and possessed bodies that were gender-specific. To elaborate, women had bodies that were pear-shaped and slim. Men had very masculine bodies, slim, broad shoulders, and had an “inverted triangle” shaped torso. The traits that these kind of bodies were said to have included: quarrelsome, extraverted, and critical. Those who had low agency typed bodies, those that were the opposite of described above, were said to have traits like: trustworthy, shy and dependable.

Both neurotic and agreeable traits were distinguished between rectangular and pear-shaped bodies. However, body weight did not have as much as a dispersion with neuroticism than agreeableness did. Negative traits for women related to these two domains included women who were heavy on the bottom, and short. For men, the traits varied, but all of the stereotyped bodies had broad shoulders.

Lastly, trying to determine features associating with openness was more difficult for the researchers than agency and valence; the study states that this may be due to the fact that those specific traits are linked with average looking bodies, where stereotyping is more difficult. Additionally, they think it is possible that determining that element may be more dependent on body language than shape.


After reading through this study, I decided to take a Big Five Personality test online myself, to see how my body type matched with the results, and if stereotypes could in some way reflect reality. I did this because I feel that it is already known that people prejudge others based on appearance, but I wanted to see if it may in anyway have some sort of underlying truth, and can in turn be beneficial. I describe myself, and as many others do too, as having a slim body. The results of my test showed that I am an introverted person, agreeable, and conscientious. As the study showed, people with slim bodies are extroverted, self disciplined, easygoing, and careful. I agree with the results, that I am conscientious and agreeable, but I am not an extroverted person.

By completing this impromptu experiment, extracting ideas from personal experience, reading additional online sources, and reading through the study, First Impressions of Personality Traits From Body Shapes, I concluded that traits just can’t be determined based on looks, but it is done anyways. Of course, we are always taught to never judge a book by its cover, but it is wired in our brains to make shortcuts and infer how someone may act based on their appearance. This study confirmed what most people already know, but has opened the doors to determining WHY we stereotype based on bodies, not how.

As the results of the experiment showed, most of the negative traits were linked to the bodies that were heavier, reiterating the idea that bigger people face prejudice. In an article on Huffington Post titled “In Case You Needed Proof That Weight Stigma Existed”, author Emma Gray compiled a list of quotes from plus-sized celebrities who felt that they were discriminated against based on their body type. To quote Gray, “When you’re a woman — regardless of how your body looks — you grow up expecting to be judged (some of the time) based on appearance. However, there is a specific sort of stigma attached to being bigger.”

To relate this study with another experiment, “Date someone your own size”, those who possess body types that are linked with positive traits are seen as more conventionally attractive; yet, it is quite common to see couples who actually have the same body type. To elaborate on a previous point, we predetermine how someone may act based on their body type, but we are not always correct; nor are we in favor of those we may deem more likable. To conclude, I feel that this study was more of a good basis for future experiments, by scientifically confirming something mostly everyone does, but not an interesting study on it’s own.


  1. Hu, Y., Parde, C. J., Hill, M. Q., Mahmood, N., & O’Toole, A. J. (2018). First Impressions of Personality Traits From Body Shapes. Psychological Science, 095679761879930. doi:10.1177/0956797618799300
  2. Gray, E. (2017, December 07). In Case You Needed Proof That Weight Stigma Existed. Retrieved from https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/16/fat-prejudice-exists-take_n_3287852.html
  3. ‘Date Someone Your Own Size’. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/attraction-evolved/201608/date-someone-your-own-size

Cite this paper

First Impressions of Personality Traits From Body Shapes . (2021, May 29). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/first-impressions-of-personality-traits-from-body-shapes/



How does body type affect personality?
There is no definitive answer to this question as everyone is different. However, some people believe that body type can affect personality, with taller and larger people being more confident and outgoing, and smaller people being more shy and introspective.
What your body shape tells about your personality?
Your body shape does not necessarily tell about your personality. However, people who are comfortable with their bodies tend to be more confident and secure, which can be attractive qualities.
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