Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania conducted a series of three experiments to examine how a man’s choice to shave his head influences perception. Participants were asked to rate photos of men on a series of traits, like attractiveness, agreeableness, confidence, and masculinity.
In Study 1, men with shaved heads were rated as more dominant than similar men with full heads of hair. However, the researchers couldn’t rule out the possibility that these men possessed other, innate qualities – perhaps correlated with their decision to shave their heads – that drove the perception of dominance. These men may have been viewed as dominant regardless of hairstyle, so a second experiment was performed.
In Study 2, participants rated photograhs of four men with hair and photographs of the same men with their hair digitally removed. This time, ratings of dominance, confidence, masculinity, age, height, and strength were all higher for the images with a digitally shaved head than with hair.
Study 3 sought to find an alternative explanation for the differences in perceived dominance, and shed light on whether men with thinning hair can alter their social standing by shaving their heads. Participants in the final experiment were presented with descriptions only, no photos. Overall, the subjects were perceived as more dominant when described as having a shaved head, rather than thick hair or thinning hair.
The effect was consistent across all three studies. A shaved head not only makes men appear more dominant, but also boosts perceptions of him across a range of other desirable traits.
The implication is clear (and not such good news for the grooming industry). Balding men may be better off embracing the razor and finishing what Mother Nature started than fighting hair loss with expensive products and procedures.
As Larry David said, ‘‘Anyone can be confident with a full head of hair. But a confident bald man—there’s your diamond in the rough.’’