Ever worry you’re friends with — or worse, in a relationship with — a complete narcissist? Well, there may be a way to determine whether someone actually is a narcissist, just by looking at them.
“Grandiose” narcissists, though they seem charming and likable at first, often exhibit not-so-ideal traits such as arrogance and aggression once the facade of their charisma and attractiveness wears off. (Another form of narcissism, vulnerable narcissism, is characterized by introversion and defensiveness. Both types share self-centeredness at their core, though.)
A 2018 study by researchers Miranda Giacomin and Nicholas Rule has found one way to possibly identify a “grandiose” narcissist.
Most people intuitively know what previous research has shown: that narcissists often look good, wear nice clothes and are really into maintaining their appearance. That could be the key to this study because the researchers found that narcissists tend to have one facial feature in common: the distinctiveness of their eyebrows.
Giacomin and Rule’s initial finding was that people can spot a grandiose narcissist simply by looking at emotionally neutral faces. The researchers took this a step further and examined which particular facial features allowed them to successfully detect the narcissists.
The narcissists had darker, thicker and more distinct brows than others. The researchers ran one more test, using image manipulation to place a narcissistic person’s brows onto a non-narcissist’s face. Study participants identified these non-narcissists as narcissists.
Why were brows the giveaway?
Because narcissists strive for admiration and attention, they may “seek to maintain distinct eyebrows to facilitate others’ ability to notice, recognize, and remember them; thereby increasing their likability and reinforcing their overly positive self-views,” Giacomin and Rule wrote in their results.
In addition, brows help to express emotions and convey social messages, even without words. Brows are key to facial recognition as well — studies have shown that without eyebrows, even famous celebrities are more difficult to identify.
Giacomin and Rule’s research concludes that “these data show that distinctive eyebrows reveal narcissists’ personalities to others, providing a basic understanding of the mechanism through which people can identify narcissistic personality traits with potential application to daily life.”
The eyes may be the window to the soul, but it seems the brows might reveal a potential personality disorder. So next time you start chatting up an attractive potential date, stop to look at his or her eyebrows!