Over at skeptics, there were a couple questions asked as to the correlation of specific physical traits in relation to personality/behaviour. For instance, the simian line as well as red hair. Now, I did my best to answer these questions, with what I understand as there being a long history of people attempting to correlate external physical characteristics with behaviour (see the disgraced "art" of phrenology for instance).

However, in answering the simian line question, I did come across some weak correlations. It got me to wondering if this is an area of exploration in terms of perhaps one gene sequence for a physical trait somehow being tied with another gene sequence for behaviour.

So, do any physical characteristics being expressed through genes correlate to behaviour?

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    $\begingroup$ cognitivesciences.SE has started, imho this question belongs there as a biologist has no scientific definition of what "personality" is. There are so many methodical flaws to this question that I dont where to start... Surely you can measure any correlations you want with the "right" measurment setup and self-chossen definitions. Instead of pointing ot "possible" correlations I would rather ignore/close such questions, but thats why I left prejudices(skeptics).SE. Best you can do is to ask if behaviour is manifested in genes. Then its is more a interaction of distinct enviromment and subject $\endgroup$ Jan 29, 2012 at 17:15
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    $\begingroup$ @WernerSchmitt does the edit refine the question more to your liking? $\endgroup$ Jan 29, 2012 at 17:38
  • $\begingroup$ no need to edit immediately, just my view. The problem to me is that behaviour originates from social evolution. "Behaviour" like Autism or Asperger are clearly caused by genes. But then the judgement of such behaviour as unnormal by normal people is kind of chicken or the egg problem. You probably know of epigenetics and that this also affects sexual orientation. So the question to me is more where does behaviour start and personality end...I dont have any clue :) But thats imho a psychological question. I know of experiemts with mice with electrode implantation in their brain to trigger fear $\endgroup$ Jan 29, 2012 at 21:29
  • $\begingroup$ is less/more fear already different behaviour? Not sure. $\endgroup$ Jan 29, 2012 at 21:30

1 Answer 1


Aldridge et al. (2011) show a correlation between facial phenotypes and autism spectrum disorders (ASD) in a sample of 8-12 year old boys.

They studied two groups of boys, 65 that had been diagnosed with ASD and 41 who had not. They collected 3D images of the faces and looked for similar patterns among the two groups. They found a significant association between some phenotypes and ASD. But, as with most studies, the results are complex; there a distinct sub-groups within the ASD group.

Keep in mind that this is an association study -- no causation is shown.

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    $\begingroup$ I don't think there's any serious possibility that different facial phenotypes cause autistic traits or behaviors. In keeping with the OP's question, the authors seem to assume that biological factors leading to autism also affect facial morphology. $\endgroup$
    – octern
    Oct 23, 2012 at 16:58

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