You Can Predict This Man's IQ Just by Looking at His Picture

You Can Predict This Man's IQ Just by Looking at His Picture

According to new research published in the journal PLoS One, a man's facial characteristics contain clues about his IQ that can be picked up by observers — but the same doesn't apply to women. But just what it is about the male face that correlates with IQ remains a big unknown.

Prague's Charles University researcher Karel Kleisner and colleagues write that "our raters were able to estimate intelligence with an accuracy higher then chance from static facial photographs of men but not from photos of women. At the same time, we found no differences in the abilities of men and women to assess intelligence from static facial photos: the ratings of both sexes were highly correlated."

The study: The researchers gathered 80 test subjects, who completed an IQ test and were photographed with a neutral expression without cosmetics or jewelry. One-hundred sixty students then rated the 80 photographs in a randomized order, subjectively judging both the test subjects' intelligence and attractiveness. The result? The students perceived the test subjects they thought were hotter as more intelligent, while also correctly determining the intelligence of men at a much higher rate than they did for women.


What's going on here? The reason that the students couldn't guess the intelligence of women might be "due to some genetic and developmental association to sex-steroid hormonal agents during puberty." Or it could be good-old-fashioned sexism. The authors write:

Women are pervasively judged according to their attractiveness. The strong halo effect of attractiveness may thus prevent an accurate assessment of the intelligence of women.

Essentially, the students judged women's intelligence by their attractiveness, and this just simply doesn't work. While the same students did also judge men's intelligence by their attractiveness — and this also didn't work — there was some unknown X factor that enough of them picked up on to make a more accurate assessment.

What is that X factor? The researchers determined the answer must be "visual cues that simply are not explicable from shape variability in men's faces." They speculate it could be "particular configurations of eyes or gaze, color of eyes, hair and skin, or skin texture." But as of yet, they just don't know.

Could you tell the man's IQ from the picture above?

How much do you trust the information in this article?

Tom McKay

Tom is a staff writer at Mic, covering national politics, media, policing and the war on drugs. He is based in New York and can be reached at tmckay@mic.com.

MORE FROM

20 attorneys general write letter urging Betsy DeVos to keep sexual assault protections

The attorneys general reminded DeVos that scrapping Title IX guidance will have a chilling effect on sexual assault and rape reporting rates.

New study suggests high workloads and aging doctor population means looming OB-GYN shortage

Obstetricians and gynecologists are overworked at nearing retirement age — without a younger contingent to replace them.

Why pro-life doctors want the First Amendment to protect their right to lie to patients

Crisis pregnancy centers believe they should be exempt from a law saying they should inform patients about all their medical options, including abortions.

‘Brown Girls’ wants to tell women of color’s stories in all their messy, complicated glory

Creators Fatimah Asghar and Sam Bailey want to let their characters break free of the neat identity categories people are wont to place them in.

One woman living in R Kelly’s alleged “sex cult” says everything is fine. That doesn’t mean it is.

Jocelyn Savage says she's "happy" and "totally fine" in her arrangement with R. Kelly. Experts say that's common behavior among abuse survivors.

Black women warned us about R Kelly's behavior for years. Was nobody listening?

Black women and girls have been telling people for years about the singer's behavior. And yet too few people have deigned to listen.

20 attorneys general write letter urging Betsy DeVos to keep sexual assault protections

The attorneys general reminded DeVos that scrapping Title IX guidance will have a chilling effect on sexual assault and rape reporting rates.

New study suggests high workloads and aging doctor population means looming OB-GYN shortage

Obstetricians and gynecologists are overworked at nearing retirement age — without a younger contingent to replace them.

Why pro-life doctors want the First Amendment to protect their right to lie to patients

Crisis pregnancy centers believe they should be exempt from a law saying they should inform patients about all their medical options, including abortions.

‘Brown Girls’ wants to tell women of color’s stories in all their messy, complicated glory

Creators Fatimah Asghar and Sam Bailey want to let their characters break free of the neat identity categories people are wont to place them in.

One woman living in R Kelly’s alleged “sex cult” says everything is fine. That doesn’t mean it is.

Jocelyn Savage says she's "happy" and "totally fine" in her arrangement with R. Kelly. Experts say that's common behavior among abuse survivors.

Black women warned us about R Kelly's behavior for years. Was nobody listening?

Black women and girls have been telling people for years about the singer's behavior. And yet too few people have deigned to listen.