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Men With Wide Faces Seen From Two Sides: Aggressive And Untrustworthy, But Also Competent And Successful

Men With Wider Faces Get Mixed Reviews
Men with wider faces are seen from a couple of sides, positive and negative. Photo courtesy of Lara Cories, CC BY 2.0.

Think quickly now of the most obnoxious man you know — a car salesman, boss, spouse. Does he have a wide face? A new study shows that men with wider faces are seen from two sides: aggressive and deceitful, but also competent and victorious.

Whereas eugenicists once took head measurements to sort humanity into two groups, pinheads and lunkheads, modern scientists are finding some behavioral differences among men based on facial width-to-height ratio. Researchers at the University of California say new data supports past associations of wider faces with aggression and manipulative behavior, showing that such men are seen as more selfish but also successful as they win larger bonuses in the workplace.

Although more attractive men with narrower, more symmetrical faces were seen as better collaborators in business, selfish traits serve a man best in negotiations from the boardroom to the kitchen table, researcher Michael Haselhuhn reported Friday in the The Leadership Quarterly, an academic business journal.

“We negotiate everyday whether we think about it or not,” he told The Daily Mail in promoting the study. “It’s not just the big things, like a car or a home. It’s what time your kid is going to go to bed or what you or your spouse are going to have for dinner. These studies show that being a man with a wider face can be both a blessing and a curse and awareness of this may be important for future business success.”

The study was conducted at the university’s Riverside School of Business Administration, and involved four experiments including an initial round of negotiations in which men with wider faces won better prices -- whether higher or lower -- in negotiations for the sale of a fictitious chemical plant. Other scenarios run in the study found that more attractive men, discounting most of those with wider faces, were most successful overall in pricing negotiation.

Yet when the experimental situation called for creative compromise to close a deal, men with narrower faces fared better, suggesting the utility of the beta male in certain leadership roles. In the study, men with wider faces won $2,200 more than others when negotiating salary bonuses.

Source: Haselhuhn, Michael, et al. The Leadership Quarterly. 2014.

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