HIRING

You're No Better Than a 3-Year-Old at Reading People

A recent study finds that children and adults have a comparable ability to assess people's trustworthiness and competence based on their appearance.
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If you've hired a lot of people, you may think you've developed a knack for sizing people up just by looking at them. The truth is, you're no better at it than a toddler.

During the hiring process, if you rely on your time-honed skill or innate ability to judge a candidate's trustworthiness, competence, and dominance by reading their faces, you're giving yourself credit for an ability you don't possess. All you're doing is judging a book by its cover.

A recent study published in the research journal Psychological Science, "Inferring Character from Faces: A Developmental Study," found that discerning character traits by judging a stranger's face is not a skill developed over time, experience, or some genetic gift. In fact, the study found that children's ability to judge trustworthiness based on appearance is comparable to that of adults (it did not draw conclusion about the accuracy of the judgments).

So, the next time you judge if a candidate is competent based on a first impression, remember you might get a similar conclusion from a 3-year-old.

 

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IMAGE: Everett Collection
Last updated: Apr 16, 2014

WILL YAKOWICZ | Staff Writer | Reporter, Inc.com

Will Yakowicz is a reporter at Inc. magazine. He has covered business, crime, and politics at Patch.com, and his work has been published in Tablet Magazine and The Brooklyn Paper. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.




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