Men shaved bald perceived to be better leaders

New research from one of the premier business schools in the U.S. suggests men who shave their heads are perceived to be more dominant, more athletic and better leaders.

University of Pennsylvania study also notes bald men rated lower in looks and seen as older

Bruce Willis, who was on the TIFF red carpet last month to promote his movie Looper, has become known for being a toughguy in film, especially since shaving himself bald. A new U.S. study links men who buzz their heads clean with being dominant and successful. (Frank Gunn/Canadian Press)

Chrome domes, take note: New research from one of the premier business schools in the U.S. suggests men who shave their heads are perceived to be more dominant, more athletic and better leaders.

Research by 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 themselve as having poor self-esteem, those who take the pre-emptive step of shaving a thinning head of hair enjoy numerous benefits in terms of how they are perceived by others.

In the paper, published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science, Mannes outlines the results of three recent experiments involving men with shorn heads:

  1. Participants were asked to look at pictures of men of a similar age, including some with shaved heads, and then rank them across many categories, including attractiveness, confidence, leadership ability and how much power they exuded.
  2. Mannes attempted to control for other features, by showing pictures of the same men with hair, and then images in which their hair has been digitally removed. The same questions were again asked.
  3. Physical descriptions of men were given, without pictures, and respondents were asked to describe their impressions

Shaved heads more dominant

Two of the experiments showed that shaved men were perceived as being as much as an inch taller, on average, and stronger: the survey showed shaved men were estimated to be able to bench press 13 per cent more, on average.

In all three, they were also perceived to have better leadership qualities.

Mannes, who has shaved his head since he started going bald in his thirties, said the idea for the experiments came from his own experience. 

"After fighting it for a while, one day I just decided to shave it off," he said in an interview published on the Wharton school's website.

While he received positive reviews from those who knew him, he noticed that new interactions with strangers were different. Others seemed "stand-offish and even deferential" to him, where they hadn't been before.

The experiments also showed a downside, however.

Men with shaved heads were rated lower in attractiveness and also seen as being older. But they nonetheless scored higher than men with thinning hair, who were ranked lower in almost all categories.