Personology—Science of Success (Apr, 1953)

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Personology—Science of Success

Bob Whiteside, Personologisf, is startling the scientific world with an amazing new system for determining a person’s aptitudes by his physical appearance.

By Lee Edson

THE man and woman standing in front of the studio audience at a recent San Francisco radio show were plainly skeptical. And so was the audience itself.

They stared at ex-newspaperman Bob Whiteside with a show-me attitude that for a lesser person might have been disconcerting. But Whiteside, who was on the program to demonstrate what he could reveal about a person merely by looking at him, was used to skepticism. He looked his subjects over carefully. He had never seen them before and there was little about them that could distinguish them from thousands of others.

“You, sir,” said Whiteside calmly, “should work at directing people. You’d do it well even though you might be abrupt with your associates.” He paused. “You’re probably bothered more by little things than by major emergencies.” – Whiteside turned to the young lady. “And you have emotional capacities that should make you a fine actress.”

The conductor of the program laughed. Whiteside had called the shots. The man was David Diamond, a Hollywood movie producer, and the young lady was Margaret Field, an actress. Mr. Diamond, much impressed, later wrote that Whiteside’s analysis was amazingly correct.

Hocus pocus? A lucky guess? Or a remarkable new science of prediction?

Bob Whiteside, an alert vigorous man of 44, has no doubt of the answer. As head of the Personology Foundation of San Francisco he has been studying human beings for the past six years and he has found some amazing correlations between personality and physical characteristics that have enabled him to make startling analyses. Some years ago, for instance, he was invited to test a group of convicts at San Quentin Prison. One man, who was serving a five-year-to-life term for armed robbery, interested him. He analyzed the fellow as being a frustrated poet and told him he should write poetry. The convict laughed and went back to his cell. But a year later Bob Whiteside received a privately-printed book of poems written by the con. Not only that but the prisoner said that writing poetry had given him a new leas^ on life and currently, having completed his parole, he was making good as a salesman.

In another instance Whiteside was called in to examine a teen-ager who had assaulted the principal of his school. The boy was surly and defiant and none of the medicos or psychologists could do anything with him. The San Francisco Personology Foundation head noted the boy’s physical pattern which indicated a big ego and a dominant personality and he pointed out how the boy could use these traits positively. After an hour’s discussion the lad apologized to the school head and promised he would straighten out in the future. The judge was so impressed with the boy’s change of attitude that he stated in court that “more scientific approaches to young- sters would result in more satisfactory solutions to juvenile problems.”

In one form or another, personology— the science of persons—is as old as civilization. The early Greeks are credited with developing a system of physical “character readings” by which they catalogued their politicians and statesmen. Literature, of course, is full of references to these qualities. You can still read about a “heroic jaw” or a “lean and hungry look” and every day you yourself probably make decisions on whether a man is trustworthy by the cast of his eyes or whether he’ll be fun at a party by the shape of his face. But despite their popularity these notions have fallen into the disrepute of phrenology and palmistry and scientists have tended to dismiss the entire subject as devoid of adequate evidence.

In recent years, however, the picture has changed remarkably. Such scientists as Prof. Ernst Kretschmer of the University of Marburg in Germany, Dr. William Sheldon of Columbia University and famed anthropologist Ernest Hooton of Harvard have indicated that the body gives definite clues to a person’s temperament and character. Listen to Drs. Frances L. Ilg and Louise Bates Ames of the well-known Gesell Institute: “The child is born with a very definite personality (or at least with the possibility for the development of a certain definite personality) just as he’s born with a very definite type of physical structure … In fact, the two things are not really too much different because, we believe, the child’s behavior is a function of his structure. This means that he acts as he does because he is built the way he is.”

Dr. Sheldon, who started his own research to disprove such relationships once and for all, ended up by devoting 15 years to the study of how your physical attributes mold your life. After examining over 4,000 people he came up with a classification that divided the human race into three broad categories: the endomorph or rolypoly, the mesomorph or bone and muscle, and the ectomorph or string-bean type. The chubby people, he found, are generally convivial, gossipy, interested in comfort. The bone-and-muscle men are the adventurers, athletes and the first to rush to war. The string-bean types are efficient, have a love of privacy, sleep poorly and are tight-lipped to strangers.

Bob Whiteside has gone a step ahead of all this. He has “validated” over 53 measurements of the human body and correlated them with specific qualities. Take your eyes, for instance. Are they wide-spaced? The chances are you are a pretty tolerant person. How about your ears? Do they sit near the back of your head or are they close to your cheekbones? Taken with other qualities they indicate something about your showmanship or your capacity for bearing a grudge. Similarly, the texture of your hair, the tone of your muscle, the lines under your eyes all reveal personality traits that can be read by the men and women trained in personology. Let’s see how all this works. The parents of Vaughn Shahinian, Jr., brought their son into the Whiteside office for an analysis because they were troubled about his career. They wanted the boy to become a doctor but he had expressed no special interest in medicine. What was the lad fitted for? Whiteside first measured the gross dimensions of Vaughn’s body: the arm span, the length of the torso and the length of the legs. He then went on to finer measurements: the eyebrows, nose, proportion of eye spacing to head, relative length of the fingers. Simple instruments were used in some cases, like an ordinary paper gauge to measure hair thickness and a small rectangular grid to determine facial areas. The analysis took three hours and resulted in a physical profile from which Whiteside made his deductions. In the case of Vaughn, Whiteside suggested the military life because the boy had all the qualities of a good officer. The parents pooh-poohed the suggestion. But as things turned out the boy took the West Point examination, came out highest in his Congressional district, and today is a career officer.

In another instance, Alice Elmgren was employed as a bill collector in San Francisco. Her analysis showed she had artistic ability. Whiteside convinced her she should paint and since then she has won three scholarships in art. An equally striking result occurred in the case of 13-year-old Ronnie Barrett of Piedmont, California. Ronald’s parents were disturbed about their son’s progress as a piano student until Whiteside explained that the boy had musical talent but was restless and needed to move around. Because of the boy’s strong lips Whiteside suggested a mouth instrument. Ronnie took up the trumpet and in one year he had won an award as the best music student of his school.

Young couples frequently consult Whiteside before getting married. He tells them whether they’re suited and in several dozen marriages so far he hasn’t struck a single divorce. In one case an executive had divorced his wife twice and then remarried her. He was contemplating a third divorce when he came to see Whiteside. Bob showed them the bad qualities they should watch for and today, armed with this self-knowledge, they’re back together and making a go of it. Whiteside has also successfully analyzed the members of marital triangles and by taking the physical measure of each he has consistently worked out a suitable solution to the difficulty.

Businessmen have turned to Whiteside for help in curing absenteeism. In one insurance office, for instance, where sick leaves were abnormally high the personology expert found the cause in a rule that the girls couldn’t leave their desks and walk around unless absolutely necessary. Even the office manager who had made the rule suffered from headaches and backaches. Whiteside pointed out that the girls who had a long torso compared to their foot length needed to be on their feet to be happy; the girls with a short torso had to sit down. By analyzing the entire office staff one of Whiteside’s students was able to recommend shifts that would make the girls happiest at their work. Six months later, absenteeism had been reduced by half and the tension in the office had disappeared.

Then there is the case of Ralf Maki, owner of King Kovers of Oakland, California, which is said to be the second largest auto seat-Cover shop of its kind in the country. Maki has become so enthusiastic about personology he makes a practice of having all his employees physically analyzed. “Our business was growing so fast,” he explains, “that there was constant bickering in the plant. But Whiteside’s analyses helped me place the right man in the right job and in the last 18 months there has been no serious scrap and only one man has left our employ. Thanks to personology, I think we now have the most congenial employer-employe relationship in the city.”

One remarkable diagnosis made by Bob Whiteside involves something he calls the “casualty syndrome.” The results of examining several hundred accident-prone people N had shown that the variation of the iris of either eye from level is a feature related to the individual’s accident-proneness. An amateur pilot, he had found the same characteristic in his own physical makeup and promptly given up flying after several slight mishaps. But the striking relationship was borne home to him even more strongly when his own daughter, who had had more accidents in her youth than the average girl, fell from her bike in front of an automobile. Whiteside cautioned her on this characteristic and ever since she checks herself in the mirror before she leaves the house. If too much white is showing under the iris, she knows she is under strain and liable to be the victim of another accident so she takes things easy. Result: she hasn’t had an accident since.

Today Whiteside conducts regular classes in personology attended by doctors, lawyers, employment counselors, nurses, housewives, radio directors, millionaires and entertainers. One of his classroom techniques is to spot-analyze an individual in the audience. If the group knows the person, he frequently has them keep score on the specific character traits he reads off from observation. Needless to say, he usually hits nine out of ten.

“After that, people said it was a put-up job,” recalls Bob with a grin. “All I can do in such cases is accept the comment as a compliment.”

In all of his work Whiteside stresses the fact that he offers no medical advice but the personologists nonetheless have accomplished some amazing things.

The doctors and nurses who attend the personology classes have reported some striking correlations in their practices. In cancer and gastro-intestinal patients, for instance, they have noted the presence of at least one of four traits—intolerance, exactingness (fussiness), considerateness (those who plan your life but spend their own lives feeling they are not appreciated) and criticalness.

All this, of course, is in the future. Meantime, Whiteside continues to amaze the skeptics by making his own astounding predictions from a person’s carcass.

  1. William Deering says: January 1, 200910:36 am

    Page three: Nixon. Did not have it as much as JFK but did have enough of it developed later on to win presidental election. All sucessful con-men and actors have it. They ruin (run?) some of our governments, industries, unions and failing banking markets. Yes, we can! (before election) It is going to get worse before it gets better! (after election) My hope is for a Happy New Year. That it will work out fine in 2009!

  2. Scott says: January 1, 200912:16 pm

    If the caption next to Nixon had included the words “paranoid, insecure, spiteful, deluded and bitter” I’d completely buy into this crackpot update of phrenology! 🙂

  3. Laura Rose says: February 26, 200912:27 pm

    As a practicing personologist for over 40 years, I am thrilled to read this article about Robert Whiteside and the early days of his practice. I have shared it with current students and am passing it on to others I think might be interested in the historical aspects. Thanks for finding it and posting it on your Blog.

  4. Niles R. Connar says: May 2, 20094:14 pm

    I wonder what trait causes homosexuality? XD

  5. Laura Rose says: May 2, 20095:04 pm

    Robert Whiteside did believe that certain traits led to homosexuality. His son, Daniel, who had a male partner for years, may have thought differently!

  6. jeffrey says: June 23, 20098:01 am

    is there such thing as human personology base from their names?

  7. Roy Detwiler says: August 8, 20095:03 pm

    Dear Sirs,
    I would like to know if a class on Personolgy is being offered in the San Francisco area. I took such a class from Dr. Robert Whiteside (and his wife) in the early 1970’s, The class was offered at the Personolgy offices and school on Van Ness Ave, San Francisco.
    I found the Personolgy and the class most interesting. I still think of it when I look at people. I would like to take a class like that again if possible.
    If you could tell me about the availability of such a class or other resources (books, etc.) that would be helpful, I would be most grateful.

  8. Firebrand38 says: August 8, 20096:08 pm

    Roy, you’re talking to an article that was written in 1953!

  9. Laura Rose says: August 9, 200912:23 am

    Roy…there is an active Personologist in the San Francisco area. Her name is Naomi Tickle and she lives in Petaluma. She has a good book entitled “You Can Read A Face Like A Book” and you can purchase this on Amazon. Her website is I am a practicing Personologist who studied under Robert and Elizabeth Whiteside and also their son, Daniel. But I live in New Mexico. Good luck! Laura Rose. My website is: and my Blog is http://eye-to-I.blogspo…

  10. Naomi Tickle says: August 9, 20093:16 am

    It’s good to see that a few people are still interested in Personology. I have been practicing this sytem over the last 20 years and find it to be amazingly accurate. We also developed a career program using this system. According to the blind studies we did with career counselors comparing our system to more traditional tests, it’s pretty much a match. These assessments were made from photographs and we only ask five questions. Both Edward Jones, who did the initial research on Personology and Whiteside, made a significant contribution to understanding our inner blue print as reflected in the face.

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