The BBC series Sherlock is currently my favorite show on television.
Sherlock Holmes instantly decodes someone’s life story and personality from a quick look at the person and their belongings.
Of course, the show is fiction. But Sherlock Holmes is a great example of expert behavior.
How much of his skill could we possess in real life with knowledge of the research on what factors predict which personality traits — and which signals are reliable?
Here’s a quick rundown on how you too can develop a piercing eye like the great Sherlock Holmes:
- Look at photos. Does their smile affect their whole face, or just raise the corners of their mouth? The type of smile can tell you how happy someone is — and how happy they’ll be.
- Look at what they’ve written. Neurotic people use more negative words, extraverts more positive words and agreeable people avoid swearing. Creative writing can give you a pretty good look at their overall personality and their level of general knowledge. Even text messages are giveaways.
- And what’s the time stamp on those emails? Night owls and morning people are very different.
- A handshake can give you an accurate read on how extraverted and conscientious they are along with general health and dominance.
- Skip the resume; it won’t tell you who they really are. A Facebook profile will show you someone’s real personality. It’s also a far better predictor of job performance.
- People could often tell photos of “America’s Most Wanted” from Nobel Peace Prize winners just by looking at their faces. More likely than not you’ll be able to tell how extraverted and conscientious someone is by a quick glance at their mug.
- CD rack? Music powerfully predicts personality type. And watching a man dance can tell you a lot about who he is as well.
- Know where are they from? There are regional personality types in the U.S.
- Left-handed? Goldmine, especially in the area of trust and creativity.
- The outside of a house can be relied on to tell you how sociable the occupant is. A quick look at someone’s bedroom can tell you their politics.
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This piece originally appeared on Barking Up the Wrong Tree.