Solely In Black and White: Judging a Book by its... Shoes

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Judging a Book by its... Shoes

Although it's often thought that judging someone based on their choice of attire is wrong or inaccurate, a new study demonstrates that it might be possible to accurately "judge" a person just by the choice of his or her shoes. Just imagine the implications of that! Maybe people aren't so crazy when they're asking about shoes during shidduch research. (Yeah right...). Anyways, the implications of the study are partially applicable to first date as well as any meeting of first impression! Maybe a book can be judged it's cover after all, at least partially. 

According to a study by researchers at University of Kansas, people could judge a stranger almost exactly by looking at their shoes. A person's age, gender, income, political affiliation, emotional and other important characters were among the personality traits that could be judged by just his/her shoes.

Omri Gillath, lead researcher of the study, said that the style, cost, color, and condition of the shoes were the determinants of the owner's nature. Participants were able to rightly tell about 90% of the owner's characteristics.

For the study, 63 students were given pictures of the most frequently worn shoes of 208 volunteers for the study. The volunteers had filled up a questionnaire consisting questions about their personal traits, choices, lifestyle, etc.

The 63 students then observed the pictures of the shoes of the volunteers and were asked to guess the age, gender, social status, emotional stability, openness, etc. Their answers were matched with the questionnaires filled by the volunteers.

The observers were found to guess the characteristics of the volunteers correctly in almost all categories, and hence the researchers concluded that a lot can be told about a person from the shoes they wear, even if they intend it or not.

Some of the general observation results were
  • Expensive shoes belonged to high earners,
  • Flashy and colorful footwear belonged to extroverts
  • Shoes that were not new but appeared to be spotless belonged to conscientious types
  • Practical and functional shoes generally belonged to agreeable people.
  • Ankle boots fitted with more aggressive personalities
  • Uncomfortable looking shoes were worn by calm personalities.

The report further stated that people who were most worried about their relationships, or people with "attachment anxiety" had well-kept shoes. This could be possibly because they are too concerned about what others think of them.

Also, liberal thinkers wore shabbier and less expensive shoes.
"Shoes convey a thin but useful slice of information about their wearers," the authors wrote. "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."

"Shoes have great variety of styles, brands, looks, and functions. Because of this variety, shoes can carry individual difference information, but do they? We suggest that the answer is yes," they concluded.
 The study was published online in the August 2012 edition of the Journal of Research in Personality.

Of course there will always be naysayers who will not accept these profound ideas. What better way to display one's contempt with said research then to sport a pair of shoes that tells the world you could care less? As such, I wonder what the researchers would say about these shoes by Mark McNairy ;-) : 

Mark McNairy "" Collection


  1. Hhhmm interesting observations...I guess I must be an extrovert...

  2. As a fellow Hungarian, duh. Of course we judge by the shoes. And the clothing. And the looks.

    1. Shh... Not so loud, people might think we're nuts! And I'm not even going to mention the chandeliers in bathrooms stereotyping. :-P

    2. I've decided to stop hiding. Fine, I'm an aesthetically obsessed freak! There, I've said it!


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