Bald men more ‘manly’?

Kim Hookem-Smith
Yahoo Lifestyle
1 October 2012

Men with shaved heads are perceived by others in a more positive light than one might expect, according to research at the University of Pennsylvania.


[Related: Baldness cure on shelf within two years]


In a series of experiments, researcher Albert Mannes found that men with shaved heads were perceived as more ‘manly’ than other men. They were also thought to be stronger, taller, more dominant and to have greater leader potential.

The research worked by showing participants a series of photos of men, all around the same age and in the same type of dress. The only difference was that some had shaved heads while others had a full head of hair. On average, the hair-less men did better.

The second study showed pictures of the same men, first with hair and then without. Despite actually being the same person, the men were seen as more dominant when they were shown with no hair (digitally removed). People also presumed them to be almost an inch taller and 13 per cent stronger.

The final part of the study gave participants written descriptions of the men – either as having thick hair or shaved heads. Again, shaved heads come top in dominance, strength and masculinity.

[Related: Naomi Campbell going bald?]


Mannes said: “I was surprised that perceptions of dominance and masculinity extended to concrete, physical characteristics such as height and strength.” His study is published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.

He suggested that the boldness of shaving the head influences how dominant and confident others see him.

But there is a caveat. The study showed that the shaved look was better than those visibly balding and Mannes suggested men would be better off giving up on trying to reverse the process. “These men might better improve their well-being by finishing what Mother Nature has started,” he writes in the study.

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