Bald may or may not be beautiful, but it definitely is manly according to recent research.1 Participants were asked to rate photographs of men who either had a full head of hair or a shaven head (the hair was digitally edited away). The bald versions of men were consistently rated as more dominant than the men with full locks. The men with shaved scalps were also perceived as taller, older, and stronger, but less attractive, than their full-haired counterparts. Consistent with prior findings, participants rated men with thinning hair least favorably on all attributes.
The “bald-is-dominant” effect may be a product of higher perceived confidence and masculinity in bald men, who are clearly bold enough to shave their heads—so what’s to say they really aren’t more manly? Alternatively, the association between baldness and perceived manliness may reflect the fact that stereotypically tough, masculine professions (e.g., the military, law enforcement, and sports) are populated by men with clean-shaven hairstyles. These findings offer some comforting advice for men experiencing hair loss: shave it off and relish in the benefits of baldness!
1Mannes, A.E. (2012). Shorn scalps and perceptions of male dominance. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 2, 198-205. doi: 10.1177/1948550612449490
Dr. Jana Rosewarne – Articles
Jana’s research interests include close relationships and positive emotions. She is most interested in the impact of individual-level variables and interpersonal behavior on personal well-being and optimal relationship functioning.