Bald men are perceived to be more dominant, more athletic and better leaders, researchers have claimed.
A new study from information management lecturer Albert Mannes at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business suggests that while men with male-pattern baldness tend to view themselves as having poor self-esteem, those who take the pre-emptive step of shaving a thinning head of hair improved their image.
‘The broad take-away is that perceptions about leadership and related traits like dominance can emerge from peculiar characteristics that aren’t really related to leadership at all,’ says Mannes.
For the paper, ‘Shorn Scalps and Perceptions of Male Dominance,’ published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science, Mannes describes three experiments.
The first found men with shaved heads were viewed as more masculine and dominant than other men.
Two more experiments found men were perceived as taller (by an inch, on average) and stronger (that is, seen as being able to bench press 13% more) than those men with a full head of hair.
They were also viewed as having greater potential as leaders.
Mannes said the impetus for his research came from his own experience in his early thirties, when he began losing his hair.
‘After fighting it for a while, one day I just decided to shave it off,’ he said.
In the first experiment, subjects were asked to look at a series of photographs of men of similar age and dress, including some with shaved heads.
Then, they were asked to rate the men in terms of how powerful, influential and authoritative they looked. When the numbers were tallied, the shaved heads won.