Physiognomy Theory

Topics: Scientific method, Science, Evidence Pages: 5 (779 words) Published: February 26, 2013
Physiognomy Theory

Physiognomy also known as the Arts and Sciences of the face, dates back to

Aristotle’s era. This philosophy was first used by the Greek and spread to places as far as

Asia and the Middle East within a short period of time. It became very popular especially

in Asia, where people would use this to determine people’s suitability for jobs and

important government positions. The number of important people such as Emperors, successful

professionals and government officials that believed in this theory also helped the rapid spread

of physiognomy throughout the continents. Back then, most people were convinced that this so

called science could not only determine their personality as well as their fate but also help them

make better choices in life. Physiognomy claims that an individual’s character, destiny and the

ability to perform certain tasks in life, can be defined by studying his facial features. Studies

done throughout time have failed to back up this theory, confirming that physiognomy is just

another pseudoscience.

Physiognomy and its uses and definition have changed overtime according to

people’s needs. Figuring out the traits and behavioral trends of people was not enough; so

physiognomy experts then argued that people’s characteristics had a connection with the

signs of the zodiac. As the numbers of followers of Physiognomy grew, so did the demand

for physiognomists, or face readers as they were called, turning this philosophy into a profitable

worldwide business. After many years, physiognomy was revived and it is now used and

believed to work efficiently to determine criminal tendencies in people. Physiognomy became

more credible to people, when a U.S. judge backed up the theory after observing the facial

features of those that appeared in his court.

Physiognomy, is the study of facial features that allows philosophers to determine an

individual’s traits and flaws. This theory supposedly ascertains different factors in someone’s

life, such as moral values, self control, social and criminal tendencies. People’s abilities are also

things that are supposedly defined by reading the facial aspects of an individual. It is also

believed that this theory predicts the fate of people by studying certain parts of the face as the

eyes, mouth and nose. Skin color, hair type, voice, forehead lines and certain body parts are

considered when evaluating an individual. The shape of someone’s skull, or the way that the soft

tissue sits on it, can also say something about the character and true identity of the person being


The theory of physiognomy has been tested many times since its discovery, thousands of

years ago. However, none of the experiments done to prove it have been successful. The

deficiency of scientific evidence to verify the theory, is the reason why physiognomy is

considered a philosophy rather than science. Most studies done by advocates of this philosophy,

have and still do lack an explanation of how and why the theory works. Supporters of

physiognomy have taken advantage of certain circumstances in which someone’s facial traits

help determine a condition. Some genetic diseases for example have specific facial features

which help diagnose the illness. Down’s syndrome and DeLange syndrome are good examples of

these diseases. Supporters of this theory often compare these diseases to physiognomy as a way

to prove the theory. Just like Down’s syndrome and Delange syndrome are used as evidence of

this pseudo- science, so are many other similar conditions.

The studies done by non-advocates of this theory have proved that a person’s character

and behavior cannot be defined by examining the facial features. Studies have shown that a

relation between facial traits and someone’s personality does not exist. There are many...

Bibliography: "Physiognomy - LoveToKnow 1911." 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica - Free Online. 6 Oct. 2006. Web. 16 Feb. 2010. <>.
"Introduction to Physiognomy - Face Reading the Facial Features." A Human Face. Web. 16 Feb. 2010. <>.
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