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Hey everyone, I’m Erik Thor, an expert on using personality psychology for flow and personal development.

Mistyped because of body language

Do you look like your personality type? Have you ever been mistyped? It may be because of visual stereotypes. We are all constantly being stereotyped

Many people may experience having been mistyped or misunderstood because of their physical features or more particularly, their facial features.

Today we are walking through things that can be misunderstood and ways we are misled because of visual stereotypes. People regularly mistake body language with physical characteristics. I have noticed the following:

  • Everyone is constantly observing and reading and reacting to the body language and appearance of the people around them.
  • People do not need to have experience in the MBTI or a personality system to stereotype and generalise on behaviour and personality.
  • We all have different associations to different cultural gestures, facial expressions, and we listen just as much to this as we listen to what the person is actually saying/doing.

So let’s talk about what these common stereotypes and associations are.

Extroverted and Introverted Stereotypes

Those that have bigger eyes and mouths tend to be perceived as more extroverted while those that have smaller eyes. In reality, the size of the eyes have nothing to do with personality type. Rather, it is the openness of the body language, for example an open mouth, or a broad, open gaze that indicates extroversion.

These kind of stereotypes can lead to people describing you to be more shy, more reserved, or more cautious than you really are. Or it can make people perceive you as more pushy, more chatty or intense.

Intuitive and Sensory stereotypes

Often, people who have a long distance between their eyes tend to be perceived as more iNtuitive and more abstract. Those that have a short distance between their eyes are more often misunderstood to be Sensory.

This is a misunderstanding because more practical and traditional types tend to furrow their nose more or have a more attentive and focused gaze, causing it to appear like their gaze is more close together.

Feeling and Thinking Stereotypes

We often assume more soft and rounded facial features are a sign of Feeling and higher warmth and agreeableness. Equally, we tend to assume that those that have more straight lines in their face are more logical and more driven by Thinking. This can influence how warm a person will perceive you as, as opposed to how critical or direct they may take you to be.

Judging and Perceiving stereotypes

Often, we assume that people with more long or oval faces are more Judging, and those that have more round faces are more often seen as Perceiving types. What you want to look for instead is whether the person is more focused in their gaze or whether their eyes dart around more.

Why visual stereotypes are so harmful

People are constantly misunderstood because of how they look. People who use personality theory will frequently mistype people because of their appearance. Your mind will make associations based on the persons appearance and you will then find yourself making assumptions about the persons behaviour and personality. Often, this is a circular process, you will look for or invent arguments to why the person is the type they look like. You may not even notice this.

One example particularly prone to this issue is the project called Objective Personality. They have built a library of thousands of celebrities. They have found that different personality types tend to have a similar physical appearance.

They will absolutely swear to that this is just a coincidence and that they have not looked at appearance at all, only behaviour. What I worry about however, is that they have actually been caught by their own bias. They may have begun to be unconsciously influenced by the appearance of the people they type, and they may not themselves have recognised this. This may have lead to mistyping.


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