Science Says Your Resting Bitch Face Is Keeping You Single

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Yeah I know, I don’t usually use words like ‘bitch’ on this site unless I’m talking about how much I dislike that women degrade themselves by calling each other ‘bad bitches,’ but it suits this article because, well, resting bitch face is the pop-culture term to describe what I’m talking about here.

For the same reason that some people can only assume why being a ‘bad bitch’ is somehow considered a good thing in today’s society, it seems that many are also equally as proud of their resting bitch face…essentially a neutral facial expression that just looks, well, bitchy.

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Maybe it’s because women think it shows dominance or some sort of attitude or whatever the reason is – but it could be actually negatively affecting your life (no, really…).

A recent study in Trends in Cognitive Sciences has basically confirmed an unfortunate reality that most of us are probably already aware of about human nature: We are judgmental.

The study begins:

“The outcomes of our most important social decisions (e.g., which political leaders to elect, which person to marry, etc.) depend on our ability to draw accurate inferences about other people’s tendencies, motivations, and qualifications. Unfortunately, these judgments are often influenced by superficial and weakly diagnostic cues. In particular, our impressions of people are heavily shaped by their facial appearances.”

But not only are we judgmental, we act on our judgments without any real reason behind it at all. This is more than likely the reason why attractive people are likely to earn an average of 3% to 4% more than a person with below-average looks. That adds up to $230,000 more over a lifetime for the typical good-looking person. [Source]

But it goes beyond earnings at work, of course. You will notice in the first sourced link above that the study also discusses outcomes of elections, court cases, and even the reality of preferential treatment in the military.

Essentially, science suggests that nearly every part of our life can, on some scale, be influenced by how we look. The article continues: “Within the domain of business, CEOs whose faces are perceived to look more competent are more likely to be hired by large, successful companies, even though they perform no better than their less competent-looking peers. So strong, it seems, is this facial bias, that the CEOs of Fortune 500 companies have more competent-looking faces than other types of leaders. Finally, within the military domain, having a face that is perceived to be dominant-looking predicts rank attainment.”

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But what does this mean for dating and relationships? As we have discussed in previous articles, people who are kind to others are also perceived to be more physically attractive than those who are not. To solidify these findings, over a period of time, people were actually ranked higher or lower on a physical attractiveness scale due to their personality after subjects in a group got to know them further.

With all of this information combined, we can reach the conclusion that it is not only luck in the gene pool that puts you in a better or worse position when it comes to dating, but also your demeanor. Your attitude, your position towards others will directly affect their position towards you. If others perceive you as being stern, serious, or unapproachable – odds are they will simply not approach you.

We do not need science to tell us this, though. Anyone who has spent time in social atmospheres or any man who has attempted to approach a woman can attest to the fact that he will likely avoid those who just look unapproachable. The issue here is, she might not be. Perhaps she just had a bad day or got caught in the rain on the way to her destination and is temporarily annoyed, but is usually a great, social, fun person.

This adds a new dimension to the reality of the situation: While we quickly judge others by nature, we really should work not to.

The solution is two-fold. I feel that if we want to be seen as open and approachable to others, we need to pay conscious attention to how we are coming across to them. We cannot expect people to know how friendly we are or how much we wish they would actually come talk to us, if we aren’t sending any signals out into the world. Something as simple as a smile can completely break one perception and replace it with a whole new one.

On the flip side, we should work to overcome our impulses to draw conclusions about people based on their physical appearance or how their face just so happens to be situated.

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Just like we should stop electing people into office based on physical attractiveness or facial symmetry (obviously because it has nothing to do with their competency), we should also stop judging people’s personalities based strictly on what we see on the surface. Ah, the good old ‘don’t judge a book by its cover.’

That being said, we do still need to be cognizant of closed off body language and how people are willingly communicating that they don’t want you anywhere near them. Do not use this as an excuse to approach people who are clearly trying to avoid you.

The bottom line is this: Be friendly. Be kind. Smile at people. We only get one chance at this life and it would be a shame to waste it by limiting our opportunities at happiness in any capacity.

Kindness goes a long way. Farther than you might think.

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3 Comments

  1. ViewPacific on November 3, 2014 at 6:25 pm

    I’m sure there’s a lot of truth to this, that we all judge a book by its cover (so to speak).
    However, who hasn’t discovered that their first gut response is right more often than not? Only last week I walked up to a deli counter where a well-dressed woman was being waited on. As she turned toward me, I saw her resting B-face turn into an active B-face. This woman turned back to the clerk and began a 20-minute tirade of practiced victim hood, woeful mistreatment and proclaimed entitlement that left others entering the deli feeling embarrassed and sorry for the maligned clerks. Yes, she may have been having an unusually bad day (and wanted to spread it around) but this only goes to prove your point that we get few second chances to make a first impression. (Or in this case, a sustained second impression)
    I wish the woman peace and goodwill and hope that it was just an unusual day. We can hope, right?

    • Francis on November 3, 2014 at 8:09 pm

      I had a friend I met in school. First impressions were he was an ass. I had to work with him on a project and I changed my opinion of him. Years later we started a business together and a year and a half later we went our separate ways and I was shafted with credit card debt he was contractually obligated to pay but that never happened. Guess I should’ve stuck with my first impression of him.

  2. The Free Woman on November 4, 2014 at 3:52 pm

    this is so true, I use it purposely to stay single (when I was) or keep men away at the gym. Works like a charm!!

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