Does your face convey confidence?

Does my photograph on the top right of this page give weight and authority to what I write? Or does it put you off, as I look a bit of a wimp? And if you subscribe by RSS you don’t have to look at me at all!

Researchers at Tufts University in Massachusetts have come up with an interesting take on faces. Using photographs of top and bottom Chief Executives of Fortune 1000 companies, they got their students to rate them as “powerful” or “warm”. They found:-

“CEO’s who are ranked higher in terms of looking more powerful do better or have more profitable companies than those who are ranked warm.”

So does your face determine your fate, as they suggest? I find it hard to credit that a face alone – especially depicted in a photograph – can convey all the inner strengths and competencies that make up a good leader. Also the successful CEO’s may have deliberately chosen photographs that depict power – or their marketing department saw this as an important thing to convey.

Its interesting when given a choice which photographs of ourselves we choose to display. Few of us ever go to the trouble or expense of getting good photographs of ourselves. Do you like your passport or driving licence photograph?! More frequently we need to (or have the opportunity to) submit photographs to various outlets, from social networking sites to application forms.

Yousuf Karsh, photographed many world leaders in his 93 years. His breakthrough came when he took his iconic picture of Winston Churchill in 1941. The story goes that with very limited time available, Karsh removed the cigar that Churchill had just lit up. He then photographed the resulting scowl and glowering stare:-

“The image captured Churchill and the England of the time perfectly — defiant and unconquerable. Churchill later said to him, “You can even make a roaring lion stand still to be photographed.” As such, Karsh titled the photograph, The Roaring Lion.” (Wikipedia)

Recently I have seen another photograph Karsh took at the same sitting – with Churchill smiling. He looks a real pussycat, rather than a lion!

Politicians put out photographs that say “trust me”, celebrity actors or pop stars “love me”. Even if you don’t feel confident, a photograph can convey an image that projects confidence. As I have said before, part of gaining confidence is learning to “fake it before you make it”.

Freelance Writing January 28, 2008 at 11:55 pm

You are right David, the way we present ourselves does reflect in how others react to us. Even though it doesn’t tell the whole story, the old adage of “judging a book by its cover” still applies.

Freelance Writing’s last blog post..3 Tips To Make Working At Home Easier

Jim | SevenActions January 29, 2008 at 9:44 am

I had to laugh when I saw your post. I spent nearly an hour trying to find the right photo to use on the About Me page on my blog. I finally decided that since my wife is the good looking one, I would use a photo of both of us. She softens the harshness of my appearance. : )

Jim | SevenActions’s last blog post..7 Recommended Websites for Debt Reduction

Robert @ reason4smile January 29, 2008 at 10:56 am

Hi David, your last statement really inspire me, “fake it, before you make it”
Once, my friend corrected me, to sit in the right pose, even though it’s just a casual conversation, but he pointed out on having a habit to have the right pose, sit straight, to show that you’re a confident person. I do think that it’s not always inside out, sometimes when we make a habit to have the right face, the right pose, the right outfit, we can feel confident and eventually be confident.

My full post here, Inside out or outside in

Thanks and cheers,

Robert @ reason4smile’s last blog post..Be comfortable with who you are

CarpetGuy February 1, 2008 at 2:09 am

I believe that confidence comes from inside, and shows on the outside, regardless of how attractive a person may be. Just for an example, look at our President, George W Bush, he looks a bit goofy, maybe even wimpy, but, he is our president! Knowledge is power, if you know what you are talking about, you seem more confident, to some, maybe even arrogant. So, what am I saying? Looks may matter to some, but to those people, little else matters anyway.

CarpetGuy’s last blog post..One down, One to go! Edwards drops out!

David February 2, 2008 at 4:10 pm

Thanks for your comments. Robert, its that habit word again. We forget how much habits influence our behaviour.
I must admit I was lucky with my “portrait”, which I took myself. I’m doing a photography course, which helped! I also really like my family photo, on the about page – yet another with the self timer!!!

David’s last blog post..Seven strange things you didn’t want to know

{ 2 trackbacks }

Previous post:

Next post: