I owe my friends an apology . Whenever we’re out, they will tear somebody’s whole life down based just on how their shoes look and I always thought they were wrong for making assumptions. Turns out they were right. A new study by psychologists at the University of Kansas found that people were able to correctly judge a stranger’s age, gender, income, political affiliation, emotional and other important personality traits just by looking at the person’s shoes. That says a lot doesn’t it?

Just by examining the style, cost, color, and condition of someone’s shoe, participants were able to guess about 90 percent of the of the owner’s personal characteristics. The 63 student volunteers looked at pics showing 208 different pairs of shoes that belonged to volunteers in the experiment and then filled out a personality questionnaire asking them to guess the gender, age, social status, and different personality traits of the owner, like whether the person was an extrovert or introvert, liberal or conservative and the degree of their emotional stability, agreeableness, conscientiousness and openness.

As would be expected, expensive shoes belonged to high earners, flashy and colorful footwear belonged to extroverts, and shoes that were not new but appeared to be spotless belonged to conscientious types. Less obvious conclusions showed practical and functional shoes generally belong to agreeable people, ankle boots fit with more aggressive personalities, and uncomfortable looking shoes were worn by calm personalities. This means people really do wear shoes to match their personalities, whether they realize it or not.

Going a little bit further, people with “attachment anxiety” or who were most worried about their relationships generally had brand new and well-kept shoes, likely because they worry so much about their appearance and what others may think of them. Liberals didn’t mind rocking less flashy and inexpensive kicks, but when it came to people with boring shoes, volunteers missed that the owners were “aloof and repressive” and didn’t care what others thought of them so they didn’t stand out fashion wise. The authors wrote that:

“Shoes convey a thin but useful slice of information about their wearers. Shoes serve a practical purpose, and also serve as nonverbal cues with symbolic messages. People tend to pay attention to the shoes they and others wear.”

And that is why I plan to step my shoe game up pronto.

Do you judge people based on their shoes?

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  • Shirl

    Gosh I feel better knowing that tuition money is being used for these life and death studies. Sorry but I think this is stupid. Maybe if jeffrey Dhamer’s (sp?) victims had paid more attention to his shoes…..

  • Lyn

    I love shoes so much I’m doing a dissertation film on them :-)

  • amber

    i’ve always said that you can tell a lot about a person by looking at their shoes! i even go as far as to picture what they do with their shoes when they come home and what kind of house they keep. it’s a good starting point when trying to read somebody….

  • Fox

    Expensive shoes don’t always mean high income….

    • In America….in Africa hehehehehehehe, that’s a whole lotta mulla!

  • Always. I like to see shoes that can take a good deal of sidewalk beating (they walk!) but still aesthetically-conscious (they’ve taste!) and subtle coloring (bright colors rarely age well.) It’s a rarity to be dupped if you go straight for the shoes. At the very least, it’s more likely they’ll tell the truth than their owner, who’s in must-impress-new-person mode and is liable to say anything to align your interests.