People are complicated, which is why we want to understand each other better. We can’t really comprehend someone else entirely, but there are some sneaky tricks that can tell you a lot about a person. Without even realizing it, people express many things about themselves. All it takes is an open eye and a quick analysis to notice. Here are ten psychological hacks that may tell you more about someone than they’d like you to know.
- Body language
Body language is the unspoken element of communication, such as gestures, facial expressions, and posture. Albert Mehrabian, a pioneer researcher of body language in the 1950s, found that over 65% of communication is done non-verbally. Though body language may not convey too much information about someone's personality, it does give valuable information on how they may be feeling during a certain situation.
For a moment, think of how much a person can say with just a simple facial expression. A smile can indicate happiness, whereas a frown can mean sadness or disapproval. In many cases, body language may reveal a person’s true feelings in any given moment. For instance, it’s very common for a person to answer “I’m fine” even when their sunken facial expression and posture show otherwise. This is when a little bit of knowledge on body language can assist you in understanding that person’s true emotions.
- What they wear
What a person wears can also convey some intel about their personality. For instance, a person wearing a suit says something different than a person wearing shorts and a tank top. Similarly, a person wearing loose or tight clothes may be a sign of how comfortable that person feels about their body.
Color and style also play an important role. For example, casual clothing may suggest that the person is easy-going, values comfort over style, and doesn’t have the need to impress others, at least in the moment. Floral patterns or skirts may convey a person’s femininity and charm. Someone that wears colorful textiles and cool patterns can speak: fun, artistic, creative, and expressive! Sporty or activewear can showcase confidence and dependability, whereas formal wear may express sophistication.
Bear in mind that what you can suggest about a person’s attire will also depend on the occasion that person is dressed for. However, it's important to not be misguided by stereotypes and prejudice. Clothes may tell us something about a person, but we shouldn’t base all of our judgements on mere physical and aesthetic attributes.
- Their social media accounts
Though social media can be misleading, since it is just a collection of perfect moments, it can tell you so much about someone. All social media platforms are different, but in each one of them, you can get more info on that person’s personality, traits, and interests. You can especially get a good idea of how a person wants to be seen by others.
The pictures posted on Instagram can show a person’s interests and how they want to be perceived by others, whereas what they share on Facebook or Twitter can let you know about their thoughts, opinions, and values. Also, their privacy settings may suggest how comfortable that person feels about sharing their life publicly.
- Eye contact
They say that the eyes are the windows to the soul. I don’t know if that’s true, but how often a person makes eye contact or looks away during a conversation can suggest interesting qualities about them. Good eye interaction with others showcases confidence; people may view you as successful, with high leadership qualities. It might also suggest you are attracted to someone or it can imply an insinuating aggression.
On the other hand, frequently breaking eye contact can indicate a variety of reasons such as lack of confidence, low self-esteem, or just shyness and social awkwardness. It’s also important to be aware that lack of eye contact can be a sign of depression, anxiety, or ADHD, or even considered as a sign of respect in some cultures, so keep your own eyes open for these cases as well.
- Their taste in music
What’s the tune flowing from that person’s speakers? What songs do they listen to at full-volume when they're in their car? What do they sing in the shower? A person’s taste in music may reveal information about their interests as well.
If you think about it, music follows us everywhere that we go and there is a grand diversity of it, so the music a person listens to must impact their personality one way or another. A scale study conducted by the University of Heriot-Watt researched over 36,000 participants and their findings link music genres with personality traits. For instance, those who liked pop music had a tendency of being more extroverted, honest, and conventional, while those who liked rap and hip-hop were more outgoing and had high self-esteem, contrary to the common stereotype of associating hip-hop and rap with aggressive behavior. The same occurred with rock music—rock enthusiasts are actually gentle and creative; however, they are often introverted and might suffer from low self-esteem.
- How they treat strangers
“A person that’s nice to you but rude to the waiter is not a nice person.” - Dave Berry
The way people treat those of a perceived lower social standing, a common stranger, or just someone they’re not gaining anything from, says a lot about their values and personality. If a person is ill-mannered toward the waiter, for instance, that might suggest that this person has a superiority complex, that they are over-privileged, or just plain superficial. They might be nice to you because they stand to gain something from you. So, it is important to keep an eye open on how a person treats a server or a stranger, as this shows you just how gentle, courteous, and well-mannered that person truly is.
- The Shopping Cart Theory
The Shopping Cart Theory describes a person in the middle of deciding whether they should return the shopping cart back to its place or not. This analogy showcases whether a person does the proper thing and, to a certain extent, it shows a level of decency and kindness towards others. Returning the shopping cart is convenient and a nice gesture, but it’s not necessary. There aren't any dire consequences from not returning it to its original place and there isn’t a reward if you do so, either. If a person returns the shopping cart, it tells you that that person is simply doing the right thing. If you go out shopping with them, see if they’ll return the shopping cart without you having to tell them to.
- Family values
Every family is different, but it's an undeniable part of every individual. How does that person view their family and what’s their relationship with them? The way they talk about their family and relate with them is essential.
Yes, every family has their issues, but how they generally behave around them and, especially, how they speak about them can tell you a lot about that person's background. It can even give you a hint about how they might want to develop their own family in the future. For instance, if that person grew up in a strict household, chances are that they have either rebelled against their family or they’re very obedient to them. In the future, a person that grew up in that scenario might want to either have their kids grow up in a more laid-back background or may repeat the same strict pattern they experienced.
- A change of plans
When you’re with a person and there is a sudden change of plan, observe how that person reacts. Do they remain calm and reason an alternative, or do they stress all over and break into an emotional rollercoaster? How a person deals with changes and overall issues is very telling of their way of being. Of course, it will depend on the situation and how significant the plan was for that person, but even that can tell you a lot about them.
- How children and dogs respond to them
I am confident that children, as well as dogs, have a sixth sense when it comes to people. As a matter of fact, scientists have confirmed that dogs can recognize an untrustworthy person. Since their reasoning capabilities are not completely developed, they rely on what they sense from a person. They do not reason with what a person is trying to say or how they try to come across. Instead, they evaluate the ‘vibes’ coming from a person, narrowing it down to body language and pure instinct. So, the next time you bring someone home, you might just want to introduce them to your dog or three-year-old family member first.
These small things may explain a person’s traits, but they're not always 100% reliable. However, being more observant by noticing certain behavioral patterns and personal likes can help you understand the people that surround you a bit more. Remember to keep those eyes open and read between the lines, you might be surprised at how accurate you are with your psychological speculations and findings!