You can tell people’s financial status just by looking at their faces, even when it is devoid of emotions, scientists have found.
A research carried out by researchers from the University of Toronto said the ability to identify faces is innate in humans.
Researchers divided student volunteers into two groups; those with family incomes under £46,000 were classed as poor while those earning £77,000 were classed as rich.
Each volunteer posed for pictures with a neutral expression on their faces.
Another group was then asked to use their gut instinct to guess which volunteers fell in the rich or poor category – and their answers were found to be mostly accurate.
“It indicates that something as subtle as the signals in your face about your social class can actually then perpetuate it,” said Thora Bjornsdottir, who carried out the research alongside Nicholas Rule.
“Those first impressions can become a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy. It’s going to influence your interactions, and the opportunities you have.
Rule, commenting on the study, said: “What we’re seeing is students who are just 18-22 years old have already accumulated enough life experience that it has visibly changed and shaped their face to the point you can tell what their socio-economic standing or social class is.
“There are neurons in the brain that specialise in facial recognition. The face is the first thing you notice when you look at somebody.
“We see faces in clouds, we see faces in [piece of] toast. We are sort of hardwired to look for face-like stimuli.
“And this is something people pick up very quickly. And they are consistent, which is what makes it statistically significant.”