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Kids Equate Glasses with Intelligence

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Children who wear glasses are generally thought of as smarter and more honest by their peers, according to a new study that brings some of our societal stereotypes into crisp focus.

Jeffrey Walline, an assistant professor of optometry at Ohio State University, asked 80 6- to 10-year-olds -- 30 of whom wore glasses -- to look at 24 pairs of photos. Each set featured two children, one of whom wore glasses while the other did not.

For each pair of photos, the participating children were asked a series of questions, including: Which of these kids would you rather play with? Who looks smarter? Who seems more shy? More honest?

On average, two-thirds responded that the spectacled child looked smarter than the one not wearing chasses. Furthermore, 57 percent thought the kids with glasses appeared to be more honest.

The glasses, or lack thereof, did not make a statistically significant difference in any of the other questions, such as who to play with. So the idea that glasses make one seem less attractive does not seem to be true, at least in the pre-pubescent years. But the cliché that people who wear glasses are brighter than average apparently takes hold very early in life.

As someone with nearly off-the-charts nearsightedness, I can only applaud this intuition-based insight.

The full study is in the May issue of the journal Ophthalmic and Physiological Optics.