Don't take it personally

If your face doesn't fit, here's why: you should be in a different career, based on your facial features. Meg Carter meets Naomi Tickle, queen of Personology
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The Independent Culture
If you've ever felt your face didn't fit, here's some good news: you may be right. Yes, good news because the key to understanding our true potential lies in better understanding the relationship between our physical features and personality, according to personologist Naomi Tickle. By ignoring these signs, many of us suffer the negative effects of poor communication or end up pursuing the wrong careers. By better understanding them, we can reassess our goals and relationships to get more out of our personal and professional lives.

It's all in the face, Ms Tickle says. Organisational ability; aesthetic appreciation; conservativeness; high and low tolerance; imagination and astuteness are just some of the many personality traits she claims can be deduced by close analysis of our facial features and body proportions.

Those of us who are good at dealing with people are more likely to have a rounded forehead, for example. Pointed features suggest close attention to detail.

Personology is a science based on years of research, Ms Tickle explains. "It's not about assumptions and it's not random, it's a system based on something that's been tested over and over again."

Personology was developed in the 1930s by Edward Vincent Jones, a Californian judge who wanted to discover if certain behavioural traits correlated with particular physical features, she says. There had long been a view that certain body shape had an effect on human behaviour. By the turn of this century, a number of scientists were exploring the relationship between the now-discredited pseudo-science of phrenology - the study of the contours of our heads - and personality.

"Initial [personology] studies involving over 1,000 people had between 92 and 96 per cent accuracy in identifying personality traits," Ms Tickle says. Jones began to see clear trends that were later statistically tested and incorporated into a system now used for career guidance, personal development and improving communications and relationships.

Tickle, a Briton who has lived in California since the Sixties, first came across personology in San Francisco 16 years ago. "My initial response was scepticism," she admits. "I thought `how very Californian'. But when I had a reading done by someone who knew nothing about me I was impressed by how remarkably accurate it was. Over 100 measurements of different features were taken and cross-referenced - it wasn't touchy-feely or guesswork at all." She went on to take a course in personology and established herself as a personologist, recently setting up a Personology Centre based at London's Morley College. Her approach to career development planning is built on the belief that people who excel in a particular field do so because they are built in a particular way. The process involves measuring the relative position and proportions of particular features, she explains.

"It's based on bone structure, not expression," she says. "And it works across all cultures and ethnic groups as it is looking at one facial proportion compared to another specific to that person, not compared to anyone else."

Personology can also be used to improve communication by better understanding other people's personalities and dealing with them accordingly, she adds. Those with vertically shaped foreheads, for example, are sequential thinkers unable to absorb high volumes of information presented simultaneously, unlike those with foreheads which clearly slope back, who are quick to assimilate data.

For career counselling, Ms Tickle typically spends two hours assimilating measurements before calculating percentages indicating how well-suited you would be to a particular job - a score of 80 or more show high compatibility, 100 per cent is the perfect fit.

Even so, Ms Tickle's thumbnail analysis of the photographer, Nicola, seems to hit the mark. Nicola's wide forehead indicates an "information person" eager to know how things work; her pronounced chin a tendency to stick with things - sometimes after she should let them go; her flat- topped head a sign of someone who is very resolute.

As for me, well, a focus on the bottom line was evident from exposed eyelids; self-confidence from my wider facial profile; aesthetic appreciation (eyebrow to eye measurements) and pioneering spirit because of the thickness of my ears. From my hand proportions and relative finger lengths she identifies I am right-handed or ambidextrous - actually, I write with my left.

Her diagnosis - littered with adjectives such as "discriminating", "competitive" and "impulsive" - seemed fairly accurate. Luckily, she reveals I am in the right career: journalist, advertising copywriter and poet score 100. Somewhat more baffling, however, is wrestler - an error down to the speed of our thumbnail assessment, she insists.

It is hard not to be sceptical. My profile, albeit brief, seemed to fit - in most parts, at least. But horoscopes also depend on the same semantic vagueness. Ms Tickle, however, is none too impressed with astrology. "Personology is a science," she insists. "A lot of people are searching for career direction. Better understanding their personality... allows them to accept the decisions they must make to be true to themselves." So many people are in careers that would never work for them, she adds. The challenge is to face up to this.

Critics claim environment rather than genes shape personality. Ms Tickle, however, believes attitude and motivation can overcome innate character traits. "Undoubtedly, a number of factors affect who we are and how we behave," she says. "We may be built a particular way but we can all decide `Yes, I want to be like this, or not'."

Naomi Tickle will be at the Mind, Body and Spirit Festival at London's Horticultural Halls on Saturday 30 May and at the Personal Development Show in Olympia in June. She can be contacted on 0171 737 6655.

Strangers to Naomi - the Personologist gives her verdict

Jonathan Aitken, Ex-Tory politician facing criminal charges: `affable; competitive; charming; persuasive'

Emma Noble, TV presenter girlfriend of James Major: `drama queen - emotional but fairly analytical'

John Redwood, former right-wing rival to John Major: `friendly, concise... likes being in charge'

Karen Brady, ground-breaking MD of Birmingham FC: `might take criticism personally; a fighter'

Michael Green, chairman of Carlton Communications: `focuses on the bottom line, a good organiser'