According to a JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery study, protruding ears may be noticeable, but they don't cause others to judge you based on them.
The study conducted a social experiment on 20 adult volunteers, having them look at photographs of children ages five to 19. The adults spent more time looking at the protruding ears of some children, but they rated the children equally in terms of 10 personality traits, including intelligence and likability.
Protruding ears may not cause as many stigmas as those who have them believe. Some ears of the children were digitally altered to eliminate the protruding look, to gage the reaction of participants. Oftentimes, these children were actually rated less highly than when they were shown with their actual ears.
In effect, big ears may actually make some children appear more endearing and cute.
Despite these findings, many adults and children with visibly larger or protruding ears are often ridiculed for being different. Names such as "dumbo" have become commonplace, especially among school-age children when bullying first begins.
An ear surgery, known as an otoplasty, is a procedure that can help reduce ear protrusion away from the head. This type of surgery is often performed on children ages four to 14, but can be performed on adults as well.
An otoplasty can:
- Bring proportion to the face
- Correct folded ear tips (lop ear)
- Enhance smaller ears or other congenital defects
- Fix or alleviate the issues associated with an accidental injury resulting in serious damage or removal of an ear
- Reshape long or offset earlobes.
Uneven or protruding ears are not the only cause of longer looks from others. Oftentimes, people are attracted to features that are novel, or uncommon to be seen.