A new study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology posits there's a good chance you can tell if someone is rich or poor just by looking at them.
"The relationship between well-being and social class has been demonstrated by previous research," R. Thora Bjornsdottir, a graduate student at the University of Toronto and co-author of the study, tells CNBC Make It. In general, people with money tend to live happier, less anxious lives compared to those struggling to make ends meet. She and her team demonstrated "that these well-being differences are actually reflected in people's faces."
Bjornsdottir and her co-author, psychology professor Nicholas O. Rule, had undergraduate subjects of various ethnicities look at gray-scale photographs of 80 white males and 80 white females. None showed any tattoos or piercings. Half of the photos were of people who made over $150,000 a year, which they designated as upper class, and the other half were people who made under $35,000, or working class.
When the subjects were asked to guess the class of the people in the photos, they did so correctly 68 percent of the time, significantly higher than random chance.
"I didn't think the effects would be quite as strong, especially given how subtle the differences are" in the faces, Rule told The Cut. "That's the most surprising part of the study to me."