Men with more hair, compared to bald men or with completely shaved heads, would be preferred as leaders on a psychological level according to a new study conducted by researchers from the University of Otago. And not only that, men with more hair on their heads would also be considered more attractive, young, intelligent and healthy.
During an initial phase, the researchers carried out an experiment by making 634 people look at the photos of 31 men digitally modified in order to have a full head, a shaved head or natural baldness. The study participants, after seeing the photo, then had to evaluate their perceptions based on seven traits: age, leadership, masculinity, domination, attractiveness, health and intelligence.
In a second and third phase, the same photos were then shown to hundreds of other participants and the latter were instead asked to evaluate their preference in terms of leaders also according to various contexts, such as in times of peace or in times of war.
“We were interested to see if a leader’s simple decision to shave his head would change the way followers perceive them and subsequently approve of them as leaders,” says Nancy Blaker, one of the researchers engaged in the study according to which the appearance physique is still very important to have more chance of success in leadership.
The results showed that men with shaved heads were perceived as more dominant. Naturally bald ones were perceived as older. In addition, men with shaved or naturally bald heads were considered more masculine than men with full hair. However, the latter were perceived as healthier and more attractive. Finally, men with more hair were chosen as their favorite leaders.
“We thought that the dominant-looking shaved head would give them a preference boost during the conflict, but instead gave them a penalty during peace,” the researcher says. “In addition, we found in the two studies on the voting paradigm that full-haired heads were generally more preferred as leaders, regardless of context, since previous studies had found no general preference. This is probably due to a greater perception of attractiveness and health towards full hair heads compared to shaved heads and bald heads.”