The Effect Of The Shape Of Eyeglasses On Judgements Of Personality


Studies on the effects of eyeglasses on impression judgements are available, but past research has only focused on judgements of target persons who wear eyeglasses. Moreover, while some studies have focused on whether the participants’ eyeglasses were full-rimed or rimless, or whether the rim was thick or thin, little attention has been given to the influence of the shape of eyeglasses on judgements about personality. The present study was designed to investigate how the shape of eyeglasses relates to selfevaluation image when individuals consider wearing eyeglasses. Two pictures of round and square eyeglasses as the independent variables, and a 12-item questionnaire on personality traits as the dependent variables were used in the study. Participants were randomly divided into two conditions; evaluating round or square eyeglasses. First, they were asked to look at the style and for 30 seconds carefully imagine wearing these eyeglasses. After that, they were asked to judge their personality traits when they imagined wearing eyeglasses. A one-way ANOVA (between-participants design) was conducted to analyze the difference between the two conditions. The results showed that wearing round eyeglasses made participants feel that they were warmer, and wearing square eyeglasses made them feel more competent and stubborn. This suggests that round-warm, and square-competent or square-stubborn connections are activated in the self-evaluation of our image merely by imagining different shapes of eyeglasses. Theoretical contributions in terms of “enclothed cognition” are discussed in evaluating these results.

Keywords: Eyeglassesstereotypeenclothed cognitionshape and image


Previous studies have shown that the wearing of eyeglasses has both positive and negative

influences on wearers’ impressions of their facial image. Regarding the negative side, Leder, Forster, and

Gerger (2011) for example, found that eyeglasses made wearers less attractive. On the positive side,

Guéguen and Martin (2017) reported that passersby on the street agreed to be interviewed more often

when the interviewers wore eyeglassesin actual field settings. This was because of the perceived higher

conscientiousness of people wearing eyeglasses. Okamura and Ura (2017, in press) focused on the effect

of the shape of face and eyeglasses on the personality judgements of others. They proposed that many

personality items are influenced by eyeglass shape, especially in respect of warmth and competence traits.

These are regarded as important by the perspectives covered by the stereotype contents model (SCM;

Fiske, Cuddy, Glick, & Xu, 2002), and in the recognition of the universal dimensions of social cognition

(Fiske, Cuddy, & Glick, 2007; Cuddy, Fiske, & Glick, 2008).

These perspectives assert that social cognition is structured from two dimensions: warmth and

competence. The perspective dealing with the universal dimensions of social cognition emphasizes the

primacy of warmth judgments. That is, warmth is judged before competence, and judgements of warmth

carry more weight in affective and behavioral reactions (Fiske, Cuddy, & Glick, 2007). Here, Okamura

and Ura (2017, in press) report two findings. First, a face wearing round eyeglasses is perceived as being

warmer, whereas a face wearing square eyeglasses is perceived as being more competent. This result is

explained by the activation in a metaphor-consistent manner. In Japanese, the words “ marui ” (round) and

shikakui ” (square) are used to describe personality traits: “ marui ” means mellow, and “ shikakui ,” means

competent but stubborn. These meanings are derived from metaphor. The effects of their activation in a

metaphor-consistent manner have been repetitively confirmed in embodied cognition research (see

Landau, Meier, & Keefer, 2010).

The second finding is that judgements of most personality traits are influenced by the shape of the

eyeglasses, and not by the shape of the face, whereas only the judgement of warmth is influenced by a

combination of these two components. These findings revealed the uniqueness of warmth trait, and

showed that it is consistent with the idea of the primacy of warmth judgments (Fiske, Cuddy, & Glick,

2007). In fact, Okamura and Ura (2017, in press) speculated on the result in terms of processing

sophistication, with warmth being considered a more important attribute than competence (e.g.,

Wojciszke & Abele, 2008), and warmth being more quickly recognized than competence (e.g., Ybarra,

Chan, & Park, 2001) when individuals evaluate others.

As the above studies indicate, reports on the effect of eyeglasses on impression judgements of

others are not uniform. For example, in seeking to understand how individuals evaluate themselves when

they imagine wearing eyeglasses, little in fact is known about their effect in terms of “enclothed

cognition” (Adam & Galinsky, 2012) concept. “Enclothed cognition” is used to describe the systematic

influence that wearing something has on the wearer’s psychological processes. The present study was

designed to investigate whether the shape of eyeglasses influences participants’ ratings of their own

personality traits when they imagine wearing them. By studying the embodied effects of the shape of

eyeglasses on self- evaluation, we may offer new insight into metaphor research. It was hypothesized that

round eyeglasses would make participants feel themselves to be warmer in personality terms, whereas

square eyeglasses would make them feel competent and stubborn in a metaphor-consistent manner.



Convenience sampling was used in this study. Participants were undergraduate university students

(10 men and 29 women), who participated in exchange for partial course credits. Each received a

questionnaire and was asked to complete it during a lecture. Participants were informed that they could

drop out of the study at any time during the survey and their informed consent was obtained before taking

part in the study.

2.2.Stimuli and Design

Two pictures of round and square eyeglasses (the independent variables), and a questionnaire on

personality traits (the dependent variables) were used. The traits were selected from Study 2 by Swami

and Barrett (2011) and Study 4 by Leder, Forster, and Gerger (2011). A one-way ANOVA (between-

participants design) was used to analyze the difference between the two conditions.


Participants were randomly divided into two conditions; round ( N = 23) or square ( N = 16)

eyeglasses. First, the participants were asked to look at either style and for 30 seconds carefully imagine

wearing them. After that, they were asked to judge their own personality traits while they were imagining

themselves wearing the eyeglasses. This evaluation was structured in terms of 12 items (friendliness,

likability, warmth, cooperativeness, competence, intelligence, successfulness, trustworthiness,

stubbornness, diligence, uncompromisingness, and inflexibility). All items were rated on a 7-point Likert

scale ranging between 1 ( strongly disagree ) and 7 ( strongly agree ). The presentation order of the 12 items

was randomized by presenting the materials in a block-wise manner.


We conducted an exploratory factor analysis using maximum likelihood estimation and promax

rotation on the 12 items used for the estimation of personality. According to our theoretical perspective,

the factor structure was assumed to consist of three dimensions (warmth, competence, stubbornness). The

results indicated that the factor structure has low fitness, CFI = .935, RMSEA = .103, AIC = 130.317, and

that one item, inflexibility, has high loading on two factors. We excluded the double loaded item and

conducted the exploratory factor analysis again on the remaining 11 items. The results showed that fitness

was improved, CFI = .974, RMSEA = .071, AIC = 96.463. The three dimensions revealed were

interpreted as meaning warmth (α = .77), competence (α = .87), and stubbornness (α = .71) respectively.

For each group, the mean values and standard errors are presented in Table 1 . The ANOVAs results

showed that wearing round eyeglasses made participants feel themselves as warmer people, and wearing

square eyeglasses made them feel more competent and stubborn.1

Table 1 -
See Full Size >


Our findings are consistent with previous studies showing that round eyeglasses are connected to a

perception of warmth trait, and that square eyeglasses are connected to a competence and stubbornness

trait in a metaphor-consistent manner. These results thus support our hypothesis. Also, the results suggest

that these connections are activated in self-evaluation by merely imagining wearing eyeglasses. However,

the results are apparently inconsistent with the theory that posits that embodying the clothing’s symbolic

meaning by wearing it is a critical factor in enclothed cognition. For example, it was reported that no

effect from attire was found when participants simply saw the clothing throughout the experiment (Adam

& Galinsky, 2012). From their results, Adam and Galinsky (2012) concluded that two independent factors

co-occurred in the process of enclothed cognition: the symbolic meaning of the clothes and the physical

experience of wearing them. However, imagining is virtual bodily movement and associated neurologic

activity without muscular movements (Tsukimoto, 2001, 2005). For example, Porro et al. (1996) found

that the same regions in the brain are co-activated in both actual bodily movements and imaginary

movements. And Okamura (2017) reported that the mere recollection of food, the same as an actual food

intake, reduces altruistic behavior. Thus, positing that recollection or imagination has the same effect as

actual behavior, we are able to validate that imagining wearing eyeglasses and actually-wearing them has

the same effect in embodying eyeglasses’ symbolic meaning, and the present data thus offer further

corroboration of the findings of enclothed cognition theory.

Two conclusions emerge from the findings of this study. One is that shape priming changes our

self-evaluation in a metaphor-consistent manner, and the other is that embodied effects occur even when

imagining the movements, which have implications on the general population. The uniqueness of this

paper lies in combining shape priming, which has not been researched, with embodied effects using

1It was possible that if participants wore eyeglasses ordinarily, and if the shape of their ordinary eyeglasses was the same as our stimulus eyeglasses, this would influence the trait judgement. Therefore, we asked participants whether they ordinarily wore eyeglasses. If yes, they were further asked whether their eyeglasses are round or square shaped. Based on the answer to these questions, we coded the match or mismatch between the shape of eyeglasses participants ordinarily wear, and the stimulus eyeglasses: match = + 1, mismatch = -1, wearing no eyeglasses ordinarily = 0. The results of ANCOVA, including the index of the match or mismatch as a covariate, indicated that the index did not influence personality judgements in any traits (warmth: F (1,36) = .32, p = .58, n.s. , competence: F (1,36) = 1.28, p = .27, n.s. , stubbornness: F (1,36) = .15. p = .70, n.s. ). Therefore, the results reported here are ones of ANOVA, and do not include the covariate. Moreover, we conducted ANCOVA to confirm whether sex differences influenced the result after we coded participants as male=1, female=2. The results of ANCOVA, including the index of the male or female as covariate, indicated that the index did not influence personality judgements about any of the traits (warmth: F (1,36) = 1.64, p = .21, n.s ., competence: F (1,36) = .12, p = .73, n.s. , stubbornness: F (1,36) = 1.67, p = .20, n.s. ). Therefore, the results reported here are ones of ANOVA, and do not include the covariate.

eyeglasses as experimental stimuli. The study is important in that it offers new insight into metaphor and

embodied research.

The study has some limitations that need to be addressed. The results are limited to a relatively

small number of samples ( N = 39), and need to be replicated in larger samples. In addition to this point, it

might be necessary to enhance ecological validity in future studies. Do the same personality judgements

occur in people imagining wearing eyeglasses as when looking at their own face wearing them in a

mirror? Do the effects of personality judgements on those wearing eyeglasses change as people become

habituated to them? Answering these questions should boost research on enclothed cognition.


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18 December 2019

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Sociolinguistics, linguistics, family psychology, child psychology, developmental psychology

Cite this article as:

Okamura, Y., & Ura, M. (2019). The Effect Of The Shape Of Eyeglasses On Judgements Of Personality. In Z. Bekirogullari, M. Y. Minas, & R. X. Thambusamy (Eds.), Cognitive - Social, and Behavioural Sciences - icCSBs 2017, October, vol 32. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 111-116). Future Academy.