An ancient science gets a fresh look

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Imagine choosing an employee or a spouse based on the size and shape of his or her nose or the distance between the person’s eyes. Judging people on the contour of their faces may not be the sole reason to make a decision about a relationship – personal or professional – but Naomi Tickle, author of “You can Read a Face Like A Book” encourages people to learn how to read a face to enhance their ability to employ the right person or to simply understand human differences. “Face reading is better than a personality test, like the Myers-Briggs,” Tickle said.

Teachers who are adept at face reading can more easily recognize their students’ abilities; sales people can identify their potential customers’ buying habits; and many others – parents, employers, job seekers and couples can benefit from facial profiling, Tickle said. Face reading is not about expressions; face reading is the study of the facial features or traits. The science is referred to as physiognomy, a 2,700-year-old form of determining behaviors and personalities by reading facial structures.

In the 1930s, a Los Angeles judge, Edward Jones, became fascinated with physiognomy as he observed the behavioral patterns of the people who appeared in his courtroom, according to Jones gave up the bench to research authors’ works on the subject, and eventually came up with his own conclusions leading to the face-reading techniques used today. Jones narrowed the study to 68 facial traits, and a newspaper reporter, Robert Whiteside, tested Jones’ formula on 1,050 people and found the method to be 92 percent accurate.

Tickle, a Petaluma, Calif., resident, has a background in color consulting and psychology and has been reading faces for 20 years. Internationally known as a face-reading expert, Tickle has been featured on CNN, NBC, ABC’s “Good Morning America” and the BBC.

Tickle teaches people how to understand personalities through facial traits that are homogenous to general personality traits.

“Narrow-faced people build confidence through developing a foundation of knowledge,” Tickle said. Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry has a narrow face, and Tickle said he is a knowledge seeker as opposed to someone with a wider face, like Sen. Edward Kennedy or Winston Churchill. The latter build their reputations as leaders on “innate self confidence” – what they feel about themselves, Tickle said. Kennedy and Churchill would be more likely to “wing it” with unfamiliar territory; whereas, Kerry would probably not tread into unfamiliar territory until he was thoroughly knowledgeable about it.

Tickle said narrow-faced people in an employment setting must know and understand their jobs, or the employer risks losing them because of fears associated with a lack of knowledge. Narrow-faced people are more likely to choose comfort or the familiar over change or new challenges. Wide-face people, on the other hand, just go for it, she said.

A detailed person has eyes that are set closer together, Tickle said. People who have wide-set eyes are great at multitasking, she said. And people with oval foreheads are good at maintaining relationships and service-oriented careers.

The more asymmetrical the facial structures, the greater the mood changes, Tickle said. “If the parents are structurally very different from each other, the child may inherit these differences,” Tickle said. “An example is President Bush; his parents are different from each other (in facial structure). People who know him will find him to be very changeable. There is the push and pull of the different traits – one moment the person is tolerant and the next less tolerant. When an individual with the extreme differences understands why they are like that, they are better able to handle the mood swings.”

“We can use this information to help us understand people and deal with them in a supportive way,” she said. “Rather than judging and reacting, we come from understanding.”

Tickle has just published her third book on face reading – “You can Read a Face Like a Book.” For more information on face reading, visit

What’s in a face?
The CSBJ asked Andrea Doray, the marketing director for the Greater Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce, to be a test subject for a Naomi Tickle face-reading evaluation. She agreed, and the CSBJ sent Doray’s picture to Tickle. The following is Tickle’s written assessment of Andrea Doray, based solely on her picture:
“This person is good at organizing projects, programs or events. Her thoughts are very organized, and this will be reflected in how she delivers her talks. Very tolerant; puts up with too much sometimes. She tends to take on too many projects at once; her challenge is to stay focused on what is needed in the moment. She has the love of travel, exploring new things and new ideas, does not like to do the same thing day after day. Very independent.
“Lots of emotions. She gets caught up in other people’s emotional situations which will leave her feeling drained. Very tenacious; does not give up too easily. She takes criticism personally and needs to “hear” what is being said rather than react. She will love to shop for clothes. She is fairly analytical but will want people to get to the point. She likes to do things ‘now.’ She is good at maintaining projects and programs. She sees them through from the beginning to the end. Home and family are very important to her. Very acquisitive, may enjoy collecting. She is very quick to respond to situations. Works well with people, will go the extra mile for them.”
And this is Andrea’s assessment of Tickle’s assessment.
“Anyone who has ever seen my office would never call me organized, but I think of it as organized chaos and it works for me. I don’t like to shop at all, so the part about shopping for clothes doesn’t ring quite true, but I do like collecting – I have a great collection of buttons with sayings, and cool pens and pencils. It’s hard for me not to take things personally, but, hey, it gives me something to work on. I don’t take it personally. Overall, I thought it was astonishingly close and a good assessment based on my profession in marketing.”