How to Analyze People on Sight

December 10, 2009

For everyone who wishes to judge people by their appearance, here is How to Analyze People on Sight, by Elsie Lincoln Benedict and Ralph Paine Benedict.

The Benedicts divide humanity into five types, all of which are full of the most deliciously blatant stereotypes you have ever seen. Fat people enjoy life! “Cerebral” types have large heads! Muscular people like to work, but don’t like to think too hard. Also, they have square jaws. People with a large lung capacity should marry other people with large lungs.

Can you find your type? Tell me how ridiculously invalid the descriptions are!



  1. This is dreadful stuff! It didn’t take long to reach this gem:

    Exhibit A—The Irishman
    ¶ The large jaw, therefore, is seen to be both a result and a cause of certain things. As the inheritance of a fighting ancestor it is the result of millions of years of fighting in prehistoric times, and, like any other over-developed part or organ, it has an intense urge to express itself. This inherent urge is what makes the owner of that jaw “fight at the drop of the hat,” and often have “a chip on his shoulder.”

    So there I am, a pugnacious Irishwoman with a large jaw…

  2. Pseudoscience at its finest, right?

  3. I found this on Project Gutenberg this morning, and, after reading the introduction and about half-way through the section on the Alimentive (fat) type, decided to call it quits. It’s quite apparent that the ideas presented haven’t really stood the test of time. I became skeptical right at the beginning when the book mentioned that a stiff jaw developed by an individual prone to fighting would be passed on genetically to his kid. I found this blog after Googling for the book title and figured it was as good a place as any to post my thoughts. Really, there must be hundreds of books on sociology that would be more helpful than this one, but if you are the type of person who finds crazy beliefs and theories of previous generations funny, this book could be for you.

    • Obviously we can’t expect beliefs about genetics from the 1920s to stand the test of time. Still, I think there are things to learn from books like this–just…not things about science. This books uses science to elaborate on widely held assumptions, which not only tells us a lot about the time in which it was written, but sheds a lot of light on the kinds of characters that appear in the fictional books I talk about on this site.

    • got the book from the same page, read untill the same chapter before i realised something is very wrong with the book… it is hard to take it serious for it has no scientific background whatsoever, still it states the opposite over and over. i would recommend Aronson (social animal) for anyone interested in the way to analyze people. great reading and it has actual value,

      • I’m not entirely sure why you’re expecting actual scientific value from a humorously illustrated book published in 1921.

  4. I am 23 years old, and I don’t know when it all started. I started observing people closely and after sometime I had my own database of people. Its a kind of mental profiling system which distinguishes certain characteristics like the looks, the way of talking and other behavioural aspects. My curiosity pushed me further, so I developed few ways to test these people in different circumstances. Currently I am working on ways to analyse people just by the way they type text in chat on social networking websites. But yes you do come across a strange personality once in a month.

    • Is this databse available online?

    • That doesn’t work always, because I type in different ways depending on my mood. And yes, i also have that “database” in my brain which helps me analyze people, but it’s not a strange thing, I believe everyone has it, more or less developed.

  5. very nice.

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