Can Appearance Determine How Long You Will Live?

Studies on social demographics have demonstrated that life span is influenced by a number of parameters related to one’s physical health and to the external environment. A new study published recently in Archives of Scientific Psychology examined whether longevity could be predicted from the face alone and, if so, the characteristics that relate to accurate judgments of longevity. Participants (N = 212) viewed 100 portraits from a 1923 university yearbook and were asked to estimate how long each person lived. A structural equation model revealed that estimates of longevity significantly predicted targets’ actual age of death (β = .30, t = 2.27, p = 0.02). To explore the mechanisms underlying these judgments, we examined perceptions of the faces along a set of variables related to actual life span. Perceptions of health and attractiveness (β = .21, t = 2.77, p = .01), power (β = .25, t = 3.32, p < .01) and wealth (β = .52, t = 6.48, p < .01) predicted participants’ judgments of longevity, with perceived wealth showing the strongest relationship to estimated age of death. Overall, these results demonstrate that demographic factors that affect life span may also affect facial appearance, affording accurate judgments of longevity based on the face alone. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2015 APA, all rights reserved)

For the abstract.


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