Do Eye Glasses Really Make People Look Smart?
Christopher Philip

Researchers Helmut Leder, Michael Forster, and Gernot Gerger, University of Vienna, designed a study to reexamine the eye glasses stereotype. They wanted to find out if eye glasses really do influence how people who wear them are viewed.

In their initial premise they say that the eyeglasses are believed to boost perceptions of intelligence, but diminish perceptions of attractiveness.

The results showed that eyeglasses generally increased observer’s gaze toward the eye region. They also found that rimless glasses lead to an increase in perceived trustworthiness but also did not decrease attractiveness. However, rimless glasses also made faces less distinctive and made it more difficult for faces to be recognized.

Glasses with heavier rims, however, tended to confirm the stereotype of increased intelligence and trustworthiness, but also conferred a corresponding decrease in attractiveness.

“Thus,” say the researchers in their paper, “glasses affect how we perceive the faces of the people wearing them and, in accordance with an old stereotype, they can lower how attractive, but increase how intelligent and trustworthy people wearing them appear.”

However, they also caution that the type of glasses worn play a big role in how the perceptions about a person are influenced.

While it is common sense that eye glasses do not actually make people more intelligent, there is still something about them that people associate with those who wear them. It could be that eye glasses are emblematic and are coupled with intelligence and trustworthiness (or harmlessness) so many times throughout our lives that when we see a person wearing them, we pass long these traits to them.

Nevertheless, eyeglasses can certainly be used in a person’s arsenal of influence, should that be desired. Simply sport glasses when the time is right – when you want to appear smart and harmless.

Resources

Leder, Helmut; Michael Forster and Gernot Gerger. The Glasses Stereotype Revisited Effects of Eyeglasses on Perception, Recognition, and Impression of Faces. Swiss Journal of Psychology. 2001. 70 (4): 211–222.