The old maxim states that it is not advisable to judge a book by a cover. This advice seems fair enough on the surface but, as human beings, it is not something we often heed when it comes to judging others based on their appearance and, according to new research, we may be in the right to do so.
Judging people by their shoes is a common pastime made by many – the stereotype is that it is usually women who will make snap judgements on men based on their shoes yet, more often than not, the opposite is also true. If I were to ask a male to visualise a woman, and her personality type, based solely on the fact she wore either a pair of Doc Martens, pink high heels or floral ballet pumps, he would no doubt be able to give a good description of his idea of her based solely on this incredibly small amount of knowledge. This is a perfect example of how, as another old saying goes, the first bite is with the eye. If our opposite sexes are going to make fast judgements solely based on our footwear then it is incredibly important to get these seemingly minor details right. If not we will have some incredibly hard work to do to break down the conscious, or subconscious, preconceived judgements made against us.
Research from the University of Kansas and Wellesley College set about studying the extent into which individuals will judge others based on the shoes they wear and the findings substantiated the belief that individuals can often gage a lot about others from such superficial details as their shoes. Participants in the study were asked to photograph their favourite shoes and then fill in a questionnaire in order to ascertain their personality. Students were then asked to look at the pictures of the shoes and make judgements about the people who wore them and, perhaps unsurprisingly, they were able to make correct estimations about the wearer’s personality. For example, students identified that men who preferred high-top shoes, like boots, were less conscientious than others. The results of the questionnaire mirrored the beliefs of the students.
The test also showed that certain prejudices exist even when the correlation between belief and actuality may not be real. So, for example, owners of high heels or pointy-toed shoes were, on average, labelled as being less emotionally stable than those who wore different varieties of footwear. Although the findings of the study did not show the owners to exhibit these values, the conclusions still show how stereotypes exist and, as such, are things that should be considered by individuals wanting to give out the right impression when at a job interview or on a date. These findings also highlight how it is possible to manipulate individuals into having opinions they may not have otherwise had by wearing shoes that reflect how the wearer wishes to be perceived rather than for how they really are.
Once this study is considered it is easy to see how it is imperative to wear the correct clothes on a first date. The dangers are wearing shoes, or even other items of clothing, that will give your date the wrong, or undesired, impression to your personality and they could even make irreversible judgements about you. Purposefully giving off the wrong impression on a first date with a tactical pair of shoes could work in the short term but will not, ultimately, create chemistry between you after that. The trick is to find shoes that best reflect your personality whilst also not being overwhelming – be honest with your shoes in the same way that you should be honest with your personality on your date. If it works, it works. If not, you will have to keep searching!
Kieron Casey is a fashion blogger who writes, and subconsciously makes judgements, about ladies shoes on a regular basis.