Judging Book Covers

judging-book-coversHow much do you judge people on their appearances?

I have a confession to make: I judge you on your appearance and outer physical qualities. How you’re dressed, the way you speak, the way you hold yourself. But my judgements are neutral — I simply use these qualities to understand what kind of person you are, outside of what you have told me or will tell me about yourself.

If you’re uncomfortable with people judging you by your physical appearance, you should probably know that everyone does. Everyone forms impressions about other people based on their outer qualities, whether they’re aware of it or not — over half of a person’s first impressions about another is based on what they can see and hear. And they’re not always wrong; much can be found out about a person based on their appearance.

Dress

A quick and common way for people to judge others is by clothing and dress, including accessories, make-up, and hairstyle. By assessing the choices a person makes in clothing and adornments, people can determine a person’s personality, self-image, and attitude towards the world.

Is a person outgoing and outwardly-focused? People with more extroverted personalities tend to wear brighter colors and flashier style of dress. Introverted personalities are more likely to wear muted colors and styles of clothing — usually nothing too eye-catching or trendy. People who are outwardly-focused tend to pay much attention to the brand of their clothing and whether their fashion is current.

body-language-manThe upside of judgments of clothing is that a person can make impressions of themselves more favorable by being well-groomed, no matter their personality or style of clothing.

Body Language

Another way people judge others, but often don’t realize they do, is by their body movements and physical expressions. The way a person carries themselves and the expressions they make can be a strikingly right way of gauging who they are and what they like.

One study found that the extent to which a person is religious or not can be pinpointed by their body movements and facial expressions. People can also tell whether a person’s self-esteem is high, average, or low based on their spontaneous expressions and movements. And a person does not need to do or say much for these impressions to be made — a few seconds or even a photograph can tell the story.

Impressions based on physical appearance of course have their limits and can be inaccurate at times. A person’s outward appearance should never be used to decide their character or self-worth. But if you’re looking to get a fast impression, judging a book by its cover isn’t as wrong or misleading as its sometimes thought to be.

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21 thoughts on “Judging Book Covers

  1. Miss Alee,
    When I first started reading this post I was ANNOYED. But in your gentle way, you schooled me. Of course we all use these cues to gather information about others that we can use to be successful in interactions. For me the word judge got in the way.

  2. Sherry,

    “When I first started reading this post I was ANNOYED.”

    Lol, that was not my intention. I know some people get irritated at the idea of people judging anyone on their appearance (even though they probably do).

    But that’s okay: a little annoyance is good for your soul; keeps it agile and keen. 😉

    “Of course we all use these cues to gather information about others that we can use to be successful in interactions.”

    Right, a lot of it is used to determine how to approach a person and what to make of the things they do and say. In a way it’s like putting some into a box… but a flexible one.

    “For me the word judge got in the way.”

    Well, judge seemed to have more of a ring to it than “form impressions”. 🙂

  3. Oh. I thought this one is going to be about, you know… Book covers.

    I don’t think if I can do this. Well, I can and I do it, just like the rest of the people. But I have a poor judgment and I focus on some details others don’t notice. And I can rarely read body language.

    All I know is that people who are dressed formally or classy make me nervous for some reason, while those who are dressed casually make me more relaxed. I have no idea why.

  4. Mira,

    “Oh. I thought this one is going to be about, you know… Book covers.”

    Hah, sorry about that. I tried to clarify it in the opening question.

    “I focus on some details others don’t notice.”

    Like what?

    “All I know is that people who are dressed formally or classy make me nervous for some reason, while those who are dressed casually make me more relaxed. I have no idea why.”
    Maybe you think they are going to judge you for not being as dressed up?

  5. “I focus on some details others don’t notice.”
    Like what?

    I don’t know, it depends on the circumstances. Overly long fingernails. The way someone raises their eyebrow, things like that. If they’re male, hair.

    Also, if they’re with a dog, I’ll notice the animals and could describe it in perfect details but not the person.

    “All I know is that people who are dressed formally or classy make me nervous for some reason, while those who are dressed casually make me more relaxed. I have no idea why.”
    Maybe you think they are going to judge you for not being as dressed up?

    Yes, I guess that could be an explanation. And while it did happen a lot, I must say messy people can be cruel, too. There’s no rule to this.

  6. I judge more on body language, facial expressions, the way someone walks etc. I can tell alot by those things. On outward appearance, I only really make judgements if something is obvious by their appearance like if they are big and buff obviously im thinkin they live in the gym. Or if a woman has expensive name brands and everything is “perfect” on her, I think she’s the stuck up princess type.

    The guy in that photo is hot! Good pick. Im judging him thinking definitely isnt the commitment type or he expects women to chase him. So I guess thats another judgement of mine, if a guy is really hot its very hard for me to believe they are the faithful type or even if they are, they are usually the avoidants in relationships.

  7. The guy in the photo is totally checking out the girl that walked past him!

    He has nice eyes but his eyebrows are strange. Also, we don’t see his hair.

  8. When I teach and get a new class my first assessment on how they may be as students is on appearance, then how they speak b/c I always make my students introduce themselves. I can’t tell everything for a few weeks but I can tell quite a bit on appearance. And I teach adults not children. So when they speak I may be able to tell who may be a little lazy, who may be more studious, who I’m going to have a tough time getting through to, whose going to want to try to teach my class and yea that first night tells me alot.

  9. eugeniamb: When I teach and get a new class my first assessment on how they may be as students is on appearance, then how they speak b/c I always make my students introduce themselves. I can’t tell everything for a few weeks but I can tell quite a bit on appearance.

    LOL thats why I always hated the first day of any class in college. Im socially awkward so I dread having to do that. If we just had to say our names that would be fine but you also have to tell something about yourself and then the teacher ends up carrying a 5 min conversation with you in front of the class. I can never come up with something (that I want to share) in front of the class on the spot so it makes me uncomfortable. In school I just wanted to hide out in the back, talk to whoever is next to me about how much this blows and get out of there haha

  10. Mira,

    “I don’t know, it depends on the circumstances. Overly long fingernails. The way someone raises their eyebrow, things like that.”

    Interesting… yeah, those are the sort of things I’d notice, in addition to the obvious things (actually, I think I might miss some of the obvious things…).

    And it’s funny you say that because I have very long nails (I don’t think I’ve ever shown you all a photo, but people always ask me how I grow them that long. I just shrug and say “I don’t cut them.”). And I raise my eyebrows at weird situations/people. 🙂

    “Also, if they’re with a dog, I’ll notice the animal and could describe it in perfect details but not the person.”

    Lol.

    Jessica,

    “On outward appearance, I only really make judgements if something is obvious by their appearance like if they are big and buff obviously im thinkin they live in the gym. Or if a woman has expensive name brands and everything is “perfect” on her, I think she’s the stuck up princess type.”

    So, negative judgments? 🙂

  11. Jessica,

    “The guy in that photo is hot! Good pick.”

    Hah, I guess. He’s not really my type though. 😉

    “Im judging him thinking definitely isnt the commitment type or he expects women to chase him.”

    Yay, you judged him! I was hoping someone would offer their impressions of him…

    “So I guess thats another judgement of mine, if a guy is really hot its very hard for me to believe they are the faithful type or even if they are, they are usually the avoidants in relationships.”

    I actually thought he seemed sort of shy, that’s why he’s just gazing from afar rather than approaching. He might be trying to look like the “cool” and aloof stereotypically hot guy, but he’s actually sweet and anxious inside. 🙂

    Mira,

    “The guy in the photo is totally checking out the girl that walked past him!”

    Yes, he is. 🙂

    “He has nice eyes but his eyebrows are strange. Also, we don’t see his hair.”

    I know, those thick triangular ones. You can see a little of his hair; it looks straight and brown, maybe with blond highlights.

  12. Eugenia,

    “When I teach and get a new class my first assessment on how they may be as students is on appearance, then how they speak b/c I always make my students introduce themselves.”

    I’m with Jessica: ugh, you’re one of those teachers that makes everyone introduce themselves and tell you where they’re from, what they’re studying, and some random fact about themselves? I used to hate that… it’s very bad for introverts and the socially awkward to be put on the spot like that.

    “when they speak I may be able to tell who may be a little lazy, who may be more studious, who I’m going to have a tough time getting through to, whose going to want to try to teach my class and yea that first night tells me alot.”

    Hah, you can tell a lot by how they speak… I think it might also be their body language and posture that you’re picking up on.

  13. @Jessica, well I give them something to say I don’t just make them go by the seat of their pants. I’m actually shy myself but I have to do it, I just like to get to know my students b/c usually I’ll spend about 2 years teaching them off and on. We need to get know each other.

    @Alee, goodness gracious you make me sound like I’m lining them up for shots to be fired LOL. I don’t ask that many questions, I know how it is to be shy and introvert and put on the spot cause I’m shy and an introvert. It’s not gonna kill them I just ask for a name, why they decided to join the paralegal studies program and what they want to gain from it. And being in the legal industry especially a paralegal you can’t be too shy, it just don’t work well for this job so either they work their way through it or maybe find a another career. I don’t want to discourage any of these students but I don’t want to lie to them about how this job will work either.

    Yes I think it’s part voice and body language, I must say I’m pretty good at it. Which I find surprising b/c I’m not that great a judge of character just in general but we spend so much time together as students and teachers, I think I can’t help it. I’ve been doing this over 2 years so I’m dang near an expert now.

  14. Eugenia,

    “@Alee, goodness gracious you make me sound like I’m lining them up for shots to be fired LOL.”

    It’s almost that bad for a really shy and/or introverted person! All eyes are on you… I imagine that would be great for the confident, attention-seeking person though. So yes, you probably could tell a lot about a person by how they respond in that situation.

  15. As for the shyness and job… I worked as a sales agent and I am shy, socially awkward, introverted… etc- everything you don’t want to have on a job like that. My job was to actually approach people and make them apply for a loan (they usually didn’t want in the first place), and yes, I felt dirty for doing it (but that’s another story). The point is, I was a good sales agent. I was good because I took it as a form of acting (this is my role: go to them, say what I have, talk to them, etc.) I learned this and I was surprisingly good… because I was left alone. Nobody was watching me (except the people I approach, but not my boss or the other workers at the shop).

    What I’m trying to say is that people like me (who absolutely hate hate hate to talk in front of everybody or in class) might be good employers when they’re actually doing their job and not when they are there to present themselves.

    Also, there are people who can’t make a good first impression (I’m one of them), but if they’re given a chance they prove to be great workers (or friends, whatever).

    And it’s funny you say that because I have very long nails (I don’t think I’ve ever shown you all a photo, but people always ask me how I grow them that long. I just shrug and say “I don’t cut them.”).

    The nails were just an example, but I guess I’m interested in them because I bite mine and even when I don’t, they break easily. Maybe I’m fascinated to see women who can grow their nails long. Then again, most of the women with very long nails here have fake nails.

  16. Oooh…I love this post :). I’m an extrovert and love to wear muted colors, I don’t like flashy or colorful things…is that weird? You can tell a lot by how someone dresses because clothes are an outward expression of whats going on, on the inside. While clothing does not say everything about a person, it does say something :).

  17. Mira,

    “As for the shyness and job… I worked as a sales agent and I am shy, socially awkward, introverted… etc- everything you don’t want to have on a job like that…I was a good sales agent. I was good because I took it as a form of acting. I learned this and I was surprisingly good… because I was left alone.”

    Good example. Some shy and socially awkward people can approach others and be in the spotlight if they feel like it’s not really them. Shyness has its roots in self-conscious about how you’re being perceived, but if you think it’s not you, you don’t have to worry about that. Plus it becomes like a role or routine, so it’s not new and you become more comfortable over time.

    Another example is celebrities, who people always assume are extroverts because of their line of work. A good amount of them are actually introverted but are able to perform and be in the spotlight because they’re acting; not being themselves.

    Nikisha,

    You’re an extrovert? I don’t get that impression. You seem like a sociable, people-loving introvert. 🙂

  18. Alee,
    The Myers Briggs test has said I was an extrovert on more than one occasion. But lately I’ve been more introverted, I guess its because I see things so differently now. I find myself not wanting to be around many people anymore because they lack substance, and everything seems so superficial. I don’t have much interest in superficial things and it makes me quiet. Is it possible to go from being an extrovert to an introvert?

  19. But I am a shy/introverted person not socially awkward but I’m shy, I was shy around family members that how shy I’ve always been. So if you’re not my nuclear family, I can become weirdly shy. Now imagine me with ppl I don’t know but b/c of the work I did, I had to get over that. It was not easy but when you’re doing legal work, you sometimes have to be assertive and demanding and direct. I think doing the work as a paralegal helped me, surprisingly I have no issues in front of groups just one on one. When I teach it’s easy, I’m not shy at all but put one on one with ppl, yikes!

  20. Nikisha,

    “Is it possible to go from being an extrovert to an introvert?”

    Not under normal circumstances… extroversion and introversion have been found to be linked to differences in brain function and processing. Introverts have more internal activity in certain areas of the brain so they become overwhelmed by external happenings quicker than an extrovert would.

    But extroversion isn’t only a matter of how sociable you are (although that’s one major criteria), but where your attention is focused. On the outer world or your inner thoughts? The former is extrovert, even if you’re only focused on your TV, toys, etc. The latter is introvert, even if your thoughts are about other people.

    Eugenia,

    “I think doing the work as a paralegal helped me, surprisingly I have no issues in front of groups just one on one. When I teach it’s easy, I’m not shy at all but put one on one with ppl, yikes!”

    I’m the opposite; I prefer one-on-one. If you can do group activity, that’s good because most of the time you’ll be in groups of people vs. one on one.

  21. Hmm. I’m introverted but I love to wear bright colours, especially in the summertime. I don’t like wearing all black or other dull colours. My go-to colours are red, canary yellow, tan and turquoise. Lol. I also care about brands in the sense that the higher brands tend to correlate with better quality clothing that is long-lasting. I hate wasting money on disposable clothes. I’ll buy a no-name item if I’m convinced it’s hardy enough to last more than one season.

    I also make value judgments based on people’s appearances as well. In addition to the person’s dress, I look at the less obvious things, like their mannerisms, speech patterns, etc.

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