To the relief of my very bald husband, a recent scientific study found that hairless men are perceived to be more masculine, powerful, and dominant than their furry-headed counterparts. In his paper titled Shorn Scalps and Perceptions of Male Dominance, Albert E. Mannes of the University of Pennsylvania details three studies he conducted, all of which suggest that men with no hair may be seen as not only more powerful and influential, but also stronger, taller, and better leaders.
HERE ARE THE QUESTIONS THAT MANNES SOUGHT TO ANSWER, AND HIS SURPRISING FINDINGS:
DOES A BALD HEAD CONVEY DOMINANCE AND AUTHORITY?
To answer this first question, Mannes presented the study participants with a variety of photos, roughly half of which showed men who were totally bald. The rest of the pictures showed men with hair of varying lengths. When the participants rated the power, influence, and authority of these men, Mannes found the bald men to come out ahead on all three of these attributes – all of which signify dominance.
ARE BALD MEN SIMPLY MORE DOMINANT PEOPLE, OR DOES THEIR BALDNESS ITSELF CONTRIBUTE TO THIS PERCEPTION?
Because of the scientific link between male-pattern baldness and testosterone, it is reasonable to wonder if the bald men were being perceived as more powerful simply because they were, in fact, more authoritative and influential people. To examine this, Mannes showed participants photographs of men with their natural hair, as well as pictures of the same men in which their hair had been digitally removed. Interestingly, participants perceived the balded version of the man to be not only more dominant, but also an entire inch taller and thirteen percent stronger.
IS THIS SIMPLY A VISUAL PHENOMENON? DO WE NEED TO SEE THE MAN’S BALD HEAD FOR THIS EFFECT TO HOLD UP?
The third part of this study used written descriptions of the men rather than photographs. Surprisingly, even when participants could not see the subject, they were still inclined to rate the men who had no hair as being the strongest, most masculine, and most dominant. They also estimated them to have the highest leadership potential.
Mannes suggests that rather than trying to combat hair loss, a man would be wise to give into it entirely. Shave your balding head, and you will be seen as the virile and powerful superhero that you always knew yourself to be. It’s a bold move, but you will be creating a more masculine and dominant image for yourself – and you may even increase your leadership potential.
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