It turns out that you can judge someone by the shoes she/he wears. A recent study demonstrates that  people seem to be able to predict a strangers’ personality based on the shoes they wear. However, they did make mistakes on a number of crucial factors, such as political persuasion and emotional stability – so those people (this author included) that are footwear challenged can take comfort from that.

So a study conducted by a group of researchers at the University of Kansas and Wellesley College in Massachusetts discovered that given only a limited number of visual cues – in this case shoes – people will actually be able to give a reasonably accurate description of someone’s personality.

This would suggest that you can make some judgments based solely on footwear. Did you spot the pun?

The study showed that people were usually able to guess another persons’ age, gender, guess their income level and give an accurate opinion on how good-natured the person would be, all based on what type of shoes the subject was wearing.

The researchers asked students to look at photographs of shoes and then asked them to make judgments about the owner of the shoes based on what they were seeing. In turn, the people who submitted the photographs were required to answer a series of questions about their personality.

In this way the researchers had a gauge of how well the ‘guessers’ did as they judged people based on their shoes.

Angela Bahns – one of the researchers stated that,"A lot of the observers guessed that people with really colorful shoes were more extroverted," she said. "But when we looked at the data, they weren't any more likely to be extroverted than people with less colorful shoes."

Probably the most surprising facts that were revealed in this study include that scruffy shoes users tend to be more prone to be liberal, and that people who wear ankle boots tend to be more aggressive. Also, and maybe not surprisingly, it seems that people who wear the least comfortable looking shoes are among the calmest.

So, maybe we shouldn’t be ‘judging’ by what’s on the surface, in this case what is covering the surface of our feet. But, it seems that it can still happen and those togs you bought at the second hand store, yes those fantastic purple pumps – they do say a fair bit about you. Pay attention to what you put on your feet.  

If you are interested in the original study you can find it published in August 2012 edition of the Journal of Research in Personality.