The term “physiognomy” refers to features of the face, when these features are used to infer the character or temperament of an individual. Physiognomy associates any feature of the face and head with personal characteristics and certain personality traits and abilities. Physiognomic messages might include a person’s genetic background (e.g., race, ethnicity), genetic diseases (e.g., Down’s syndrome), and more fuzzy concepts such as romantic compatibility, suitability for certain positions or the destiny of the person. As a practice, physiognomy has a long history in Western and Eastern cultures. It still attracts attention as a curiosity and books and popular articles retain an interest.
Merton Method for Employers Holmes W. Merton invented the Merton Method in the late 19th century to match a person’s character to a suitable job. Merton specialized in matching personal characteristics to vocations, and he invented a unique set of traits that he claimed are relevant to job performance. He divided the face into dozens of different areas, each area reflecting one or more of his traits, thus matching a face to a job. Many large corporations used this method to make employment and job assignment decisions.
Stereotypes of Police Caricature of the criminal: thug with small, beady, close-set eyes, large jaw and puffy cheeks, bent nose, unshaven with threatening expression. Analysis of physiognomic characteristics has been employed in the criminal justice system. Some paid legal consultants offer advice to trial lawyers about their clients, prospective jurors, and witnesses based on their facial characteristics. They know that jurors respond to the faces of the defendant and the witnesses, so they try to optimize the favorableness of the impressions jurors are likely to form (such consultants are most often used by the defense). For example, research shows that a baby-faced person is less likely to be convicted of an intentional crime and more likely to be convicted of a negligent crime. Some consultants also claim to have insight into the characteristics of prospective jurors based on their faces. An old face reading tradition in law enforcement circles is that you can tell a criminal from his or her face. Surveys of policemen indicate that even today, many believe they can detect the criminal by examining their face.
Acting Another area in which physiognomy is used is the selection of actors to fill roles. For example, pedantic women, evil or virtuous men, and incompetent or stupid characters are often portrayed by actors who “look the part”. Character actors often spend their professional lives performing only limited roles that match their facial appearance.
It is important to note that none of these applications has any scientific evidence to support it and none uses any of the scientific evidence and theory as a basis for its practice.
Palmistry or chiromancy is the art of evaluating a person’s character and foretelling the future through the study of the palm. Palmistry can trace its roots back to India, from where it spread to China, Tibet, Egypt, Persia and Europe. Even today, the practice is found all over the world, with numerous cultural variations. Those who practice chiromancy are generally called palmists, palm readers, or hand readers. A reader usually begins by reading the person’s ‘dominant hand’ (the hand they write with or use the most) which is considered to represent the conscious mind, whereas the other hand is subconscious. Various “lines” (“heart line”, “life line”, etc.) and “mounts” (or bumps) presumably suggest interpretations by their relative sizes, qualities, and intersections. The lines are believed to carry hereditary or family traits, or to convey information about past-life or karmic conditions. The basic framework for “Classical” palmistry is rooted in Greek mythology.
Each area of the palm and fingers is related to a god or goddess, and the features of that area indicate the nature of the corresponding aspect of the subject. For example, the ring finger is associated with the Greek god Apollo; characteristics of the ring finger are tied to the subject’s dealings with art, music, aesthetics, fame, wealth, and harmony. The practice of chiromancy is generally regarded as a pseudoscience. There has been little research verifying palmistry’s accuracy as a system of character analysis, and so far no conclusive evidence has been provided to support a connection between the lines of the palm and a person’s character. No conclusive data have yet been found to support the claims made by hand readers with respect to life expectancy or personality type.
Temperament theory has its roots in the ancient four humors theory. The Greek physician Hippocrates (460-370 BC) systemized and developed it into a medical theory. He believed certain human moods, emotions and behaviors were caused by body fluids (called “humors”): blood, yellow bile, black bile, and phlegm, and searched for physiological reasons for different behaviors in humans. The four temperamental categories were named “sanguine”, “melancholic”, “choleric” and “phlegmatic” after the bodily humors. Each was the result of an excess of one of the humors and corresponded to a different personality type.
Sanguine The Sanguine temperament personality is fairly extroverted. People of a sanguine temperament tend to enjoy social gatherings and making new friends. They tend to be creative and often daydream. However, some alone time is crucial for those of this temperament. Sanguine can also mean very sensitive, compassionate and thoughtful. Sanguine personalities generally struggle with following tasks all the way through, are chronically late, and tend to be forgetful and sometimes a little sarcastic. Often, when pursuing a new hobby, interest is lost quickly when it ceases to be engaging or fun. They are very much people persons. They are talkative and not shy.
Choleric A person who is choleric is a doer. They have a lot of ambition, energy, and passion, and try to instill it in others. They can dominate people of other temperaments, especially phlegmatic types. Many great charismatic military and political figures were cholerics. They like to be leaders and in charge of everything.
Melancholic A person who is a thoughtful ponderer has a melancholic disposition. Often very considerate, melancholics can be highly creative in activities such as poetry and art – and can become occupied with the tragedy and cruelty in the world. A melancholic is also often a perfectionist. They are often self-reliant and independent.
Phlegmatic Phlegmatics tend to be self-content and kind. They can be very accepting and affectionate. They may be very receptive and shy and often prefer stability to uncertainty and change. They are very consistent, relaxed, rational, curious, and observant, making them good administrators and diplomats.
They also believe there are twelve mixtures of the four temperaments, representing people who have the traits of two temperaments. The temperament theory is used to help understand personality. The temperaments are seen as avenues into teaching, with many different types of blends, which can help with both discipline and defining the methods used with individual children and class balance.
Phrenology [frɪ’nɔləʤɪ] A pseudo-science related to physiognomy is Phrenology. The phrenologist claims that specific areas of the cranium reflect certain personality traits. By examining these areas of the head for size and shape, an expert can infer individual’s hidden character. This approach developed in the early 19th century, based on the discovery that areas of the cerebral cortex under the skull were differently specialized. Thus, the skull area over each area takes on certain forms matching the abilities of the brain underneath it. Unfortunately for this theory, the early ideas of specialization of the brain are seriously flawed, and the assumption that specialized areas have anything to do with shapes of the cranium is false. Nevertheless, this idea of phrenology became very popular, and many experts on phrenology published volumes describing the applications of this technique. Numerous followers promoted the idea and supplied their services to an eager public, usually for a fee. None of their claimed expertise have any basis in fact, and the subject seems a humorous relict today.
Astrology is a group of systems, traditions, and beliefs which hold that the movements and positions of celestial bodies directly influence life on Earth or correspond to the events of a human’s life. A practitioner of astrology is called an astrologer. Astrologers believe, for instance, that the identification of the zodiacal placement of the Sun on the day of a person’s birth provides information about personality and human affairs, and helps in the interpretation of past and present events, and in the prediction of the future. Astrology is generally considered a pseudoscience or superstition by the scientific community because of a lack of statistically significant astrological predictions. Still, astrology enjoys certain popularity even nowadays. In particular, many newspapers and magazines carry predictive columns based on celestial influences in relation to an individual’s zodiac sign.
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