Turns out our bitchiest middle school classmates were right: you CAN judge a person just by looking at their shoes. Researchers at the University of Kansas found that people were able to correctly guess a stranger's age, sex, income, political affiliation, and other characteristics simply by looking at their footwear.
63 students looked at photographs of 208 pairs of shoes for the study, and then guessed "the gender, age, social status and different personality traits of the owner, like whether the owner was an extrovert or introvert, liberal or conservative and the degree of their emotional stability, agreeableness, conscientiousness and openness."
Some of the correlations seem obvious: rich people buy expensive shoes, extroverts favor flashy shoes, and conscientious people like shoes "that are not new but appeared to be spotless." (Ew, those people sound annoying.) Agreeable people like agreeable (well, "practical and functional") shoes, and "liberal thinkers" like shabbier shoes. (Occupy the thrift store!)
Some of the other findings are a little less "duh," like calm people wear uncomfortable looking shoes (Maybe because they can meditate through the pain? Wouldn't they be even calmer if they bought shoes that fit?), people with aggressive personalities wear ankle boots (hmm) and people who own boring shoes are "aloof and repressive" while people with "attachment anxiety" have brand new and well-kept shoes. (Researchers think that's because they worry about what people think of them.)
The study concluded that while shoes "can indeed be used to evaluate others," people rarely choose shoes "just to convey a certain public image that is different from their real personality." The study's authors also successfully resisted making any puns about "walking a mile in someone's shoes" in their abstract, which is incredibly impressive.
You Can Judge 90 Percent of a Stranger's Personal Characteristics Just by Looking at Their Shoes [Medical Daily]
Image via Photobac/Shutterstock.