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Social Perceptions of Male Pattern Baldness. A Review

  • Dr. Ronald Henss Verlag


The paper presents a review of the empirical literature on strangers’ perceptions of male pattern baldness (androgenic alopecia). It also discusses some sociocultural aspects of hair in general, and hair loss in particular. _____ social perception, personality judgments, face perception _____ Haare, Haarausfall, Glatze, androgenetische Alopezie, Personenbeurteilung, Gesichterbeurteilung, Persönlichkeitseindruck
Social perceptions of male pattern baldness. A
Zur Eindruckswirkung des Haarausfalls beim Mann.
R. Henss
Fachrichtung Psychologie, Universität des Saarlandes, Saarbrücken
Psychosomatics + Dermatology, 2, 63-71.
Key Words
Male pattern baldness androgenetic
alopecia social perceptions face
perception personality judgments
socio-cultural aspects of hair and hair
The paper presents a review of the empirical
literature on strangers’
perceptions of male pattern baldness
(androgenetic alopecia). It also discusses some
socio-cultural aspects of hair in general, and
hair loss in particular.
Haarausfall Glatze androgenetische
Alopezie Personenbeurteilung
Persönlichkeitseindruck sozio-
kulturelle Aspekte des Haares
Die vorliegende Arbeit gibt einen
Überblick über empirische
Untersuchungen zur Wirkung des
männlichen Haarausfalls
(androgenetische Alopezie) aus der
Perspektive des Beobachters. Darüber
hinaus werden sozio-kulturelle Aspekte
des Haares und des Haarausfalls
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Ronald Henss: Social perceptions of male pattern baldness.
Introduction. Focus on male pattern baldness.
In 1967 the British zoologist Desmond Morris published his best-selling book “The
Naked Ape” [35]. This title draws special attention to one of the most conspicuous
features of human appearance: the relative hairlessness of our bodies. Strictly speaking,
we are not really naked. Complete hairlessness is to be found in only a few areas like the
lips, the palm of our hands, the soles of the feet, the nipples and some parts of the genitals.
The impression of nakedness derives from the fact that on most parts of our bodies our
hairs are so fine and short that they are hardly visible, at least from some distance. On the
other hand, however, there are some special areas of dense hair that stand in stark contrast
to the apparently hairless regions. In fact, it is the characteristic patchy distribution that
grabs our attention; and the focus is on those regions that are densely covered with hair,
particularly the facial hair in males and the scalp hair in both sexes.
From a strictly biological-medical point of view, hair is not a necessary prerequisite to
human survival. On the other hand, however, there can be no doubt that hair is extremely
important with regard to our social and psychological experiences. Hair is much more
than meets the eye; and evidence abounds that humans are and always have been obsessed
with hair.
Because hair is of utmost importance, so is its loss. The most common form of hair loss
is male pattern baldness (androgenetic alopecia) which affects a large part of the male
population. Although there can be no doubt that male pattern baldness is of great social
and psychological significance, there exists little empirical study on its psychological
impact. The present paper tries to review the extant literature with regard to a specific
aspect, namely social perceptions of hair loss. This is indeed an important topic: after all,
hair loss would be an inconsequential affair if our perceptions of others and ourselves
would not be influenced by the amount of cranial hair in the first place. Before turning to
our main topic, we briefly look at some socio-cultural aspects of hair in general and hair
loss in particular.
The importance of hair, past and present.
Humans are preoccupied with hair and the lack of it. Our preoccupation with hair gave
rise to a multi-billion dollar industry. Moreover, millions of people earn their livings in
an occupation devoted to hair care. A significant portion of our daily time budget is
Ronald Henss: Social perceptions of male pattern baldness.
allocated to hair care and grooming. For some people, particularly women, this may
accumulate to many months or even years. Although hair is certainly more important to
females, it is also of great concern to males.
For the “stronger sex” the apprehension of hair loss is the focus of interest. In Caucasians,
the most common form of hair loss, male pattern baldness, affects approximately one half
of the adult male population. Thus, some degree of hair loss is considered normal in adult
males [14, 15, 38]. Recently, a large-scale survey was conducted on a representative
sample of 1717 men (18-40 years of age) from France, Germany, Italy, and the United
Kingdom [18]. 53.5 percent of the participants reported that they had a full head of hair.
Thus, 46.5% experienced at least some degree of hair loss. 8.7 per cent had more than
“moderate” hair loss, 0.6% reported they were bald. Of course, hair loss increased
significantly with increasing age, and the prevalence of more mature states of baldness
would steeply rise in an older sample.
The loss of cranial hair may have strong psychological repercussions. In the European
survey, men with more hair loss reported a large number of negative psychological
consequences. Moreover, there are several studies that reported similar negative
consequences of hair loss on self perceptions and psychological well being like, such as
lowered self-esteem, bother due to hair loss, greater self-consciousness, dissatisfaction
with appearance, worry about reactions of others, fear of social teasing, emotional
distress, psychological maladjustment, anxiety, or even depression (for a review see
There is only scant literature on the effects of baldness on real life outcomes. However,
there can be no doubt that the amount of cranial hair can deeply affect a wide range of
social outcomes from the private sphere through mate choice to the vocational realm.
Thus, it is no surprise that many men go to great lengths to avoid or to conceal the aversive
condition of baldness. The great import of cranial hair is highlighted by the fact that
“Americans alone spend more than $7 billion a year on hair-loss treatments and
restoration” ([11], p.xvii).
Although one might be tempted to think otherwise, preoccupation with hair loss is by no
means an “invention” of our modern youth oriented western culture. The medical record
of baldness treatments from the ancient beginnings to modern times provides ample
evidence to the contrary [10, 28]. “Throughout history, the human scalp has been the
object of superstition and mystery. No culture has been indifferent to hair … loss of scalp
Ronald Henss: Social perceptions of male pattern baldness.
hair has never been viewed with equanimity except during brief cultist episodes … In all
cultures and in all times man has been obsessed by intense desire to possess a proud
pelage. Anxieties about becoming bald are deeply rooted in human experience” ([28], p.
84f.). Most significantly, among the oldest recorded medical prescriptions is “an Egyptian
cure for baldness that dates back to 4000 BC: the Egyptians rubbed the head vigorously
with a concoction of dates, dogs’ paws, and asses’ hooves that had been ground up and
cooked in oil” ([28], p.86). Similarly bizarre hair cures have proliferated throughout the
ages. Kligman and Freeman divided them into two main categories: “(1) those that are
unbelievably exotic obtainable only by the rich and powerful and (2) those that are
repulsive and filthy”; and they noted as one common feature that all of them “are
medically unsound and unproved” ([28], p.86). The mere fact that all these ineffective
remedies were nevertheless in high demand throughout the ages underscores the extreme
importance of scalp hair and the deeply rooted fear of its loss.
Visual prominence, variability, malleability, and display functions.
As already noted, hair is not an indispensable prerequisite for survival. Therefore, the big
fuss about hair must be viewed from a psychological perspective. When a man is
concerned about his hair loss, he is concerned about his looks. Although an old adage tells
us not to “judge a book by its cover”, there can’t be the slightest doubt that looks matter.
The uttermost importance of looks is documented by a huge literature on physical
attractiveness (extensive reviews: [3, 17, 20, 21, 22, 32, 39, 48]). Our outward appearance
not only influences how we are seen by others and how we perceive ourselves but it also
has a number of far-reaching psychological and social consequences. Thus, it is not
surprising that throughout the ages people all over the world have taken every effort to
bring their appearance in line with individual or social standards. Notably, one of the most
effortless and most effective means of changing one’s appearance is afforded by the hair.
To understand the eminent import of hair, one must consider the following interdependent
aspects which might be characterized by the key words visual prominence, variability,
malleability, and social signals.
Visual prominence: Because they stand in stark contrast to our “naked” body, the few
hairy patches inevitably attract attention. This is particularly true for cranial hair. It is
certainly not by mere chance that the very top of our body is the region that is most
Ronald Henss: Social perceptions of male pattern baldness.
densely covered with hair. Scalp hair is the crown of our head and it provides an imposing
frame to the most expressive and most informative part of our body, the face.
Variability: Hair, and cranial hair in particular, shows enormous variability with respect
to different dimensions like quantity, length, color, texture, and style. The myriad of
combinations of these different aspects leads to an extremely rich variety of inter- and
intra-individual differences.
Malleability: From a purely biological perspective, hair is simply dead matter. This,
however, is a key to its power: just because it is dead matter, hair can be manipulated
without causing pain. Its remarkable flexibility and its relatively rapid (re)growth bestow
it with an unrivalled malleability. By rather simple means, one may produce changes in
style, length, or color that may have dramatic effects on one’s appearance.
Social signals: By virtue of its visual prominence, variability, and malleability, cranial
hair is predisposed to serve as a rich source of social signals. It conveys invaluable
information on biological, social, and personal aspects. Hair provides a clue to
sociobiological variables like age, sex, ethnicity, and health, as well as to the social and
private identity of its bearer.
Hair, and cranial hair in particular, may be understood as an extremely important social
organ. Throughout the ages, people have used this inexhaustible source of social
Social symbols.
The socio-cultural significance of hair, and the lack of it, has been aptly described from
historical, anthropological and sociological perspectives (e.g., [1, 4, 9, 13, 23, 24, 29, 36,
44]). An illuminating sociological analysis has been provided by Synnott [44]. His theory
of hair symbolism is based on three opposites: (1) opposite sexes have opposite hair, (2)
head hair and body hair are opposite, (3) opposite ideologies have opposite hair. There
are three zones of social significance: head hair, facial hair, and body hair; and each zone
has both gender and ideological significance. Hair can be modified with regard to length,
color, style, and quantity (by use of false or artificial hair). Hair symbolism can be very
complex, “for in all three zones and in all four modes of hair change, the norms for men
and women are opposite” (p.383).
Ronald Henss: Social perceptions of male pattern baldness.
Pertinent to our topic are the dimensions of length and quantity of cranial hair. In women,
long and voluminous scalp hair has almost always been associated with femininity, youth,
and sexuality. The sexual allure of long female hair is highlighted by the fact that after
marriage women often wear their hair shorter or tightly bound or even hide it behind a
veil. Very short hair has sometimes been used to display rejection of female sexuality or
as protest against sexism. Baldness has never been chosen voluntarily by women.
However, in some extreme instances, it has been imposed on them as severe punishment,
as was the case for French females who collaborated with the Nazi regime during World
War Two. In most societies men have shorter hair than women and it is less stylised. For
males, long hair may serve as a badge of youth and virility, as a symbol of rebellion and
rejection of societal norms, and it is sometimes associated with the prototypical image of
intellectuals and artists. The vast majority of men wear their hair relatively short with
little variation in style, which is usually attributed to the greater pressure on men to
conform to social norms. Very short hair often signifies discipline, restraint, and even
punishment. It is often found in large organizations with a strict hierarchy like the
military. Consistent with the notion that a full head of hair is a symbol of youth and
virility, a bald head is usually seen as a symbol of age and death and loss of sexual
prowess. This symbolism is epitomised in the biblical story of Samson who was deprived
of his virility and power after Delilah cut off his hair. Voluntarily shaving the head is
most often motivated on religious grounds. In many cultures a shaven head denotes
celibacy, sexual restraint, dedication to God, or mourning. Occasionally, a bald shaven
head has also been used as a political symbol (skinheads). The last couple of years have
witnessed a fashion where young men fully shaved their head, only to immediately re-
grow a full head of hair. This appears to be an interesting case of the handicap principle
[47], which also applies to those few men, like Yul Brunner, Telly Savallas, and some
black American athletes, who have chosen a bald head as their trade mark and sex symbol.
When baldness is imposed by others, it is typically an extreme punishment and
humiliation, a symbolic castration. Shaving the hair of a defeated enemy, or even talking
his scalp, has been popular in many cultures. In most cases baldness is simply imposed
by nature, with male pattern baldness being the most common form. As already noted
above, from the earliest times men have been afraid of becoming bald, and they have gone
to great lengths to avoid or to conceal this aversive state.
Social perceptions of male pattern baldness. Theoretical considerations.
Ronald Henss: Social perceptions of male pattern baldness.
Most of the scientific literature on psycho-social aspects of hair has been descriptive and
there has been little theoretical conceptualisation on social perceptions of baldness.
Male pattern baldness may be considered as a benign disease with a very high prevalence.
An important clue to its biological causes has already been provided by Hippocrates (400
BC) who noted that eunuchs do not become bald. However, medical science had to wait
until the 1940s when Hamilton [14, 15] conclusively demonstrated that the development
and the extent of male pattern baldness is dependent on the interaction of three factors,
namely androgens, genetic predisposition, and age. During the last decade, there has been
huge progress in understanding the underlying biochemical processes which has even led
to the development of drugs that effectively stop progress in hair loss [25].
With regard to social perceptions, it is important to note that male pattern baldness may
serve as a marker of sex, age, and hormonal status. The conspicuous sex difference and
the correlation with age strongly suggest that male pattern baldness evolved because it
served important functions during human evolution.
Based on ethological considerations Guthrie [12] provided some speculations on the
evolutionary origins of baldness. He noted that there are a great variety of scalp hair
patterns in primates and that the display functions of scalp hair have undergone several
shifts, particularly in humans. For some primate species, the scalp hair represents an
erectile crest which mainly serves as a height display, and as an organ of intimidation and
threat. However, humans as well as a few other primate species do not fit into this pattern.
In these groups, the females typically have a fuller head of hair and the males may even
become bald. Guthrie links the phenomenon of balding to the evolution of a prominent
forehead in the higher primates. Here, a general trend “has been to remove the hair from
the face. A naked face amid head hair attracts attention and greatly facilitates
communication” (p.60-61) by exposing skin color and texture, which may convey
important information on the emotional state, sex, and age. As a consequence of the
evolutionary switch, an exposed forehead, which may be greatly exaggerated by a balding
head, became a display of threat and intimidation. On the other hand, the old device, i.e.
long hair, became “a symbol of femininity or pre-adolescence, a symbol of those of low
social stature” (p.61). While among the other balding primates a bald head may still serve
as a badge of social privilege there has been another evolutionary shift within the human
species. Now we “live in a society which bases most status evaluation on one’s potential
courting currency … The symbols of age and status are in disfavor, even repugnant. Now
it is the mature male who mimics the post-puberty vigor of youth that has become our ad
Ronald Henss: Social perceptions of male pattern baldness.
man’s ideal the threat value of the very high forehead and its exaggeration, the bald
scalp, has been debased” (p.65).
Also taking an evolutionary stance, Muscarella and Cunningham [37] suggested a
somewhat different explanation. Their multiple fitness model proposes that “perceivers
scan people for cues to the individual’s adaptation on a number of dimensions, including
fitness as a mate, beneficiary, competitor, or source of wisdom and nurturance … Such
varieties of fitness may be suggested by face and body feature categories that denote the
extent of the individual’s physical maturation and the success of their cultural
adaptations” (p.100). The multiple fitness model comprises four categories neonate
features, sexual maturity features, senescence features, and culturally specified grooming
features , each of which may be used in perceptions of male facial and cranial hair.
Muscarella and Cunningham’s account of male pattern baldness focuses on the category
of senescence features. They “suggest that male pattern baldness evolved as a signal of
senescence and social maturity … The senescence feature of male pattern baldness may
be an advertisement of social maturity. Social maturity includes enhanced social status
but decreased physical threat, increased approachability, and a propensity to nurture”
(p.103-104). There is a striking similarity between the bald head of an adult male and the
pattern of baldness seen among infants. Thus, male pattern baldness may also be
interpreted as a neonate feature functioning as an appeasement signal. Noting that hair
loss is negatively related to perceptions of sexual attractiveness, Muscarella and
Cunningham assume that “balding may have evolved through tertiary selection, through
its contribution to kin selection altruism … baldness may not have aided in sexual
attraction, but instead contributed to the postpartum male’s survival against male
competitors, and gave the bald males more opportunity to engage in nurturance of their
offspring and relatives” (p.105).
Muscarella and Cunningham’s approach is largely consistent with modern evolutionary
psychological conceptualisations [5, 20, 21]. It is also consistent with the ecological
theory of person perception which has stressed the importance of age cues in general, and
the neonate features of babyfacedness in particular [34, 48].
Social perceptions of male pattern baldness. Empirical evidence.
In this section we will review the empirical evidence on social perceptions of male pattern
baldness. More specifically, this review will be restricted to strangers’ perceptions and
Ronald Henss: Social perceptions of male pattern baldness.
we will not address the psychological and social repercussions on the persons concerned
(with regard to the latter: [8]). It should also be mentioned that most of this research has
been conducted with little or no reference to theoretical concepts.
Presumably the first systematic research on perceptions of male pattern baldness was
conducted at the Psychological Institute at the University of Vienna. In the early 1950s,
Rohracher [40] initiated a series of experimental studies which tried to determine the
impression value of different facial features. A pertinent study was conducted by Seiller-
Tarbuk [42]. She developed a set of 224 schematic faces which systematically varied the
amount of cranial and facial hair. Overall, the manipulation of the hairline yielded
stronger effects than the variations of facial hair. Remarkably, the schematic faces with a
full head of hair received less favorable ratings than those with a receding hairline and
the bald ones. The former appeared unintelligent, evil, and dislikable, while those with
visible hair loss were judged as intelligent and good. In a follow-up study Kühnel [30]
employed a set of schematic faces which varied different facial features. She reported
complex interactions between mouth curvature and cranial and facial hair. In one
experiment Kühnel attempted to match a small set of schematic faces which had yielded
the most salient impressions with facial photographs that were as similar as possible with
regard to the critical features. Notably, the correlations between the judgments of the
schematic faces and the corresponding photographs were rather small. Thus, the
ecological validity of both Kühnel’s and Seiller-Tarbuk’s findings is questionable.
Another study that relied on schematic faces was conducted by Roll and Verinis [41].
Sketches designed by a commercial artist systematically varied hair color, hair length,
hair quality, facial hair, and pertinent to the present topic amount of scalp hair (regular,
balding, bald). 60 psychology students rated the faces on 11 semantic differential scales
that were intended to tap the dimensions of Evaluation, Potency, and Activity. A full head
of hair was seen as the most potent (virile, strong), and the most active (active, sharp). It
was also rated as the most handsome. Balding hair received some positive evaluations
(good, kind), but it appeared as least potent (impotent, soft, weak), and as least active
(dull, inactive). As the authors point out, this pattern of judgments depicts the balding
head as “nondangerous, nonpowerful and noninvolved” (p.979). The bald was the least
valued being judged as unkind, bad, and ugly. Although it also received a high value on
one of the Potency scales, namely hard (vs. soft), the bald face was clearly judged as less
potent than one with a full head of hair, which “brings into questions the generality of the
fantasy that ‘bald men make good lovers’” (p.979).
Ronald Henss: Social perceptions of male pattern baldness.
Moerman [33] asked a “woman artist … to draw a picture of a good looking, mature man
with a full head of hair and the same man but with fully developed androgenetic alopecia”
(p.90). Each picture was judged by a different group of 49 students. One rating scale each
referred to the Big Five factors of personality judgment, i.e. Extraversion, Agreeableness,
Conscientiousness, Emotional Stability, and Intellect. Additionally, the subjects rated the
target’s attractiveness and estimated his age. With regard to Extraversion,
Conscientiousness, Emotional Stability, and Intellect the difference between the bald and
the non-bald target failed to reach the conventional 5 per cent level of significance in a
two-tailed test. However, a one-tailed test yielded significant effects on
Conscientiousness, Emotional Stability, and Intellect. In each case the bald man received
more positive ratings than his hirsute counterpart. On the other hand, the bald man was
significantly less agreeable and less attractive. It might be interesting to note that the
female raters did not distinguish significantly between the attractiveness of the bald and
the non-bald. This, however, was largely due to a floor effect, i.e., the females considered
both targets to be very unattractive. The male subjects were less harsh and they considered
the bald to be much less attractive than the target with a full head of hair. There was a
large difference with regard to the age estimates. While the bald man was estimated as 52
years of age, the hirsute appeared to be only 42 years old.
The studies considered thus far share the weakness of employing schematic faces as
stimuli. As already mentioned by Kühnel [30], it is very difficult to match schematic faces
with facial photographs that show comparable features; and, even more importantly, the
matched pairs of pictures may generate quite different impressions. Meanwhile, there
exists a large body of research on face perception that makes clear that line drawings of
faces (even if they are of high quality) may yield very different results than facial
photographs from which they were derived [31]. Given this evidence, the ecological
validity of line drawing studies is questionable. Thus, the foregoing results should be
treated with caution.
Before turning to studies that used photorealistic stimuli, another two studies of dubious
ecological validity should be mentioned. Hankins, McKinnie and Bailey [16] presented
160 male undergraduates with a written scenario “in which a hypothetical male applicant
was being considered for promotion to a managerial position in a large company”
(p.853.). The description varied along the dimensions height (tall vs. short), physique
(slender vs. obese), and cranial hair (full vs. bald). No significant effects of the putative
amount of hair was found with regard to judgments of various job related behaviors.
Ronald Henss: Social perceptions of male pattern baldness.
Because there were no visual cues available and the judges had to rely on a verbal
description (which was not specified in the paper), it is hard to tell what Hankins et al.’s
finding means.
Wogalter and Hosie [46] constructed 64 stimulus faces using the Mac-a-Muc Pro
identification kit which is a computer-assisted composite system that allows the user to
combine digitized photographs of facial features. One half of the stimuli appeared to be
balding, the other half had a full head of hair. 48 students rated the faces on attractiveness,
intelligence, and sociableness and estimated the age in years. The balding looked
significantly older than the nonbalding (33.4 vs. 27.5 years). Furthermore, the balding
appeared to be more intelligent than those with a full head of hair. The cranial hair
condition had no significant impact on perceived attractiveness and sociableness.
There are several studies which used photographic stimuli. Within this group, two
different methodological approaches can be distinguished. One the one hand, the
variations in the amount of cranial hair are represented by different individuals who
naturally differ in the degree of hair loss. On the other hand, there are some studies that
used manipulation techniques that allowed the depiction of the same individuals with
different degrees of hair loss. We are going to review the two approaches consecutively.
Some tentative evidence comes from Keating’s investigations on physiognomic cues of
dominance. Keating, Mazur and Segall [27] presented pairs of 19 portrait photographs to
judges in 11 national/cultural settings. In a post hoc analysis they noted “So many aspects
varied between members of each portrait pair that we could only guess which ones were
actually responsible for the observed cross-sample consistency in attributions” (p.47); and
with reference to Guthrie’s ethological speculations, they suggested that receding
hairlines might be among the set of relevant cues. In a similar study on children’s
attributions of social dominance Keating and Bai [26] noted that “the three models
disproportionately selected by children as appearing dominant were each distinguished
by … more receded hairlines” and they reasoned that “receding hairlines may have
universal value as a status cue because of an association with age” (p.1274).
While Keating and her colleagues were not primarily concerned with hair loss, hair was
among the focal variables of Hellström and Tekle [19] who investigated the effects of
glasses, hair, and beard on judgments of occupation and personal qualities. They selected
32 photographs from a large pool of birthday photos of Swedish men aged 50. Each of
the eight combinations of glasses / no glasses, beard / no beard, and hair / no hair was
Ronald Henss: Social perceptions of male pattern baldness.
represented by 4 individuals. 75 students and mental health workers judged the targets’
typicality for 15 occupations and rated them on 8 attributes. The authors concluded that
“glasses, followed by beard, were the attributes of greatest importance in influencing the
judgments, whereas hair was less important” (p.698). However, there were a number of
significant main effects of hair as well as interactions between hair and glasses and/or
beard. The main effects showed that targets with a full head of hair were more likely
perceived as a factory worker, salesman, or artist, while the bald were more likely to be
seen as physician, lawyer, professor, pastor, colonel, or diplomat. It appears that baldness
was associated with higher occupational prestige. This is corroborated by the finding that
the bald scored higher with regard to ratings of intelligence and leadership qualities. On
the other hand, a full head of hair was significantly more good-looking and masculine.
For sake of completeness it should be mentioned that there were no significant main
effects of hair with regard to honest, helpful, congenial, and suspect, and stereotypic
characteristics of an engineer, politician, psychologist, farmer, and bank clerk.
From a large set of photographs Cash selected portraits of 18 men with clearly visible hair
loss and 18 men with a full head of hair [7]. The two sets were closely matched on the
actual age, race and several other potentially confounding variables. 54 male and 54
female students, university employees and full-time faculty served as raters. The
judgments were based on the Person Perception Questionnaire which includes six
dimensions: self-assertiveness, social attractiveness, intelligence, life success, personal
likability, and physical attractiveness. With the exception of the intelligence ratings, the
differences between the bald and the nonbald were statistically significant. The balding
men were perceived as less physically attractive, less self-assertive, less socially
attractive, less successful, and they were less liked by the perceivers. The hair status also
had a strong effect on the age estimates. Overall, targets with a full head of hair appeared
to be 2-3 years younger than their actual age while the balding were overestimated to
approximately the same degree. Cash points out that the reduction of perceived physical
attractiveness may be a key to the negative impact of hair loss. After controlling for
physical attractiveness, the effects on self-assertiveness, life success, and being liked were
no longer significant which led Cash to conclude that “most, albeit not all, of the
deleterious social perceptual effects of MPB are mediated by its diminution of the
aesthetic appeal of balding men” (p.164).
Physical attractiveness has been the focus of much of our own research [20, 21]. Based
on an evolutionary psychological perspective, one experiment focused on different
Ronald Henss: Social perceptions of male pattern baldness.
aspects which might be considered as key components of mate value [21]. 207 students
rated 90 facial photographs of men who covered a broad age range and a broad spectrum
of occupations. In individual sessions different groups of subjects rated the targets with
regard to physical attractiveness, sexual attractiveness, health, sextypical appearance,
babyfacedness, occupational prestige, fashionableness, mood, and age. In an additional
study 3 male and 9 female students judged each target’s degree of baldness, using
Norwood’s classification scheme. There were significant zero-order correlations between
the amount of hair loss and estimated age (0.58), babyfacedness (0.41), sexual
attractiveness (-0.40), sextypical appearance (0.38), health (-0.33), fashionableness (-
0.28), and physical attractiveness (-0.20), respectively. These results are in line with the
negative impact of hair loss on perceived physical attractiveness reported by Cash [7].
However, after controlling for the targets’ actual age, only two effects remained
significant: balding men looked older than their real age, and they were less appealing
with regard to sexual attractiveness. It should be pointed out that the degree of hair loss
was much stronger related to sexual attractiveness than to physical attractiveness, i.e. it is
the sexual component which is most affected.
The foregoing study concentrated on some core components of mate value. Recently we
have completed a similar study which considered a much broader range of personality
impressions. The experiment was conducted on the internet and there were two parallel
versions, one in English the other one in German. The stimulus material comprised 59
facial photographs of men whose apparent age ranged from 20 to 60 years. Overall, there
were 1875 judges (German version: 295 males, 289 females; English version: 480 males,
811 females). Each subject rated a single face and each target was judged by at least 30
subjects. The ratings referred to 36 attributes whose selection was based on extensive
prior research on facial judgments. Additionally, the subjects estimated the target’s age,
height, and weight. A factor analysis of the 36 personality attributes yielded 6 factors
which were interpreted as Agreeableness (e.g., sincere, good-natured, honest), Sexual
Attractiveness (e.g., sexy, seductive, good-looking), Intellect/Career (e.g., educated, high
occupational status, career oriented), Cheerfulness (e.g., merry, cheerful, in a good
mood), Emotional Lability (e.g., nervous, anxious, insecure), and Masculine Appearance
(e.g., masculine appearance, pronounced male face, mature face). In a separate study 21
students used Norwood’s classification scheme to judge the targets’ degree of hair loss.
In series of multiple regression analyses each of the 6 personality impression factors was
used as criterion, while degree of hair loss, estimated age, presence/absence of spectacles,
Ronald Henss: Social perceptions of male pattern baldness.
and presence/absence of facial hair served as predictors. The amount of cranial hair had
no impact on perceived Agreeableness, Emotional Lability, and Masculine Appearance.
On the other hand, however, hair loss was significantly related to perceptions of
Cheerfulness, Attractiveness, and Intellect/Career. While the balding men scored higher
on Cheerfulness, they came off badly with regard to Sexual Attractiveness and
The foregoing studies used photographs of different individuals to represent different
degrees of hair loss. A disadvantage of this approach is the fact that people not only differ
with regard to the amount of hair but individuals differ from each other with regard to an
infinite number of features. To control for the individual identity, some studies used
manipulation techniques to present one and the same individual(s) with different degrees
of hair loss.
Butler, Pryor and Grieder [6] used a 30 years old naturally bald man as stimulus person.
“Through computer morphing, the blond hair (of another man) was superimposed upon
the bald photo, creating a realistic-looking ‘full-hair’ condition” (p.348). 97 students
judged either the original or the manipulated photograph. When depicted with a full head
of hair the man appeared significantly younger, more dynamic, more dominant, and more
masculine which “suggests that balding was associated with over-all reduced impressions
of efficacy and power” (p.348/9). There were no significant differences between the two
hair conditions with regard to the dimensions of positive-negative and responsiveness,
and single item measures of extraversion, honesty, friendliness, kindness, intelligence,
competence, and attractiveness. It should be noted that the use of a single stimulus person
severely restricts the generalizability of Butler et al.’s findings.
Sigelman, Dawson, Nitz and Whicker [43] were concerned with real-life consequences
of baldness in the political-occupational realm. More specifically, they determined the
degree of hair loss of „every ‚Anglo’ male governor, U.S. Senator, and member of the
U.S. House of Representatives as of 1988” (p.273). A comparison with normative data on
the prevalence of hair loss in the general population revealed that “officeholders are much
more likely to have a full head of hair than would be expected of men of their age” (p.269).
To determine whether the conspicuous underrepresentation of balding men in high
elective office might be due to voter bias, Sigelman et al. conducted an experimental
study. In a simulated congressional race 550 adults were provided with a comprehensive
campaign brochure. The front of the brochure contained a picture of the proposed
candidate. Six different males (26 to 66 years) with substantial hair loss served as models.
Ronald Henss: Social perceptions of male pattern baldness.
Each one was photographed with a professionally fitted hairpiece. Thus, there were
twelve different brochures depicting one of the six models either with or without
hairpiece. After carefully reading the campaign brochure the subjects were requested to
judge the personality and physical appearance of the putative candidate on 13 adjective
scales. Then they should indicate how likely they would vote for him, and to estimate his
age. Not surprisingly, the age estimates were strongly affected by the hair condition:
“donning a hairpiece lowered the perceived age of each model by at least three years”
(p.280). Surprisingly, however, there was no impact of the hair condition on the
personality and appearance ratings, and the probability to vote for the candidate. Because
the sample of judges was rather large, the non-significance is not attributable to
insufficient test power. It is very likely that the raters did not pay much attention to the
picture but relied on the comprehensive textual information instead. This is corroborated
by the fact that the ratings were also almost unaffected by the individual identity of the
models, i.e., the Model factor yielded almost no significant effects. Bearing in mind that
the models’ age ranged from 26 to 66 years, this is an extremely unusual result (in our
own studies on facial judgments, we regularly find that the individual identity factor
explains a large portion of the variance; [20, 21]; also see below).
Tischer [45] also looked at the effects of baldness in the occupational realm. In a simulated
hiring situation he provided 98 actual personnel managers with application forms of 6
different applicants. Each résumé contained a passport-size photograph of the applicant.
Photographs of the ostensible applicants, who had a full head of hair, were copied and
digitally retouched to a bald head. The resulting twelve pictures were divided into two
sets, each containing three bald applicants and another three with full hair. The personnel
managers were requested to select two applicants for a job interview, to state which one
he or she were most likely to hire, and to judge each applicant with regard to six attributes.
There was a clear bias against baldness. Each man was more likely to be invited to a job
interview and to be hired when he was depicted with a full head of hair. These results
suggest that baldness may be a liability in the workplace. With a full head of hair, the
applicants appeared to be more likable, more dynamic, and their general appearance was
rated more positively. The hair condition had no significant impact on rated
trustworthiness, reliability, and intelligence.
Muscarella and Cunningham [37] investigated the effects of facial and cranial hair within
the theoretical framework of their multiple fitness model. Six males (19 to 25 years) were
photographed in three cranial hair conditions: “The full head of hair was based on a wig
Ronald Henss: Social perceptions of male pattern baldness.
containing dark brown hair The receding hairline was based on a latex head cover
combined with a dark brown wig that exposed approximately one third more forehead
area … The bald condition was based on a wig displaying latex skin from the forehead to
the crown” (p.101). Additionally, there were two levels of facial hair: clean shaven, and
a short, dark beard (created by use of an eyebrow pencil). From the resulting total of 36
photographs six sets were created “displaying each of the six possible hair combinations,
with each model appearing only once in each set” (p.101). Raters were 204 male and
female students. Each subject judged the six stimulus persons of one set of photographs
on 32 adjectives and descriptive characteristics. They also estimated each target’s age. A
factor analysis (that used only 25 items) yielded four factors which were interpreted as
Social Maturity (intelligent, knowledgeable, welleducated, honest, helpful, socially
influential, high social status), Attractiveness (desirable as a dating partner, handsome,
good lover, physically attractive appearance, sexually potent, affectionate),
Aggressiveness (dangerous, likely to get into a physical fight, aggressive, dominant,
unpredictable, likely to have an extramarital affair, strong), and Appeasement (timid,
feminine, baby-face, naïve, gentle). For each factor, as well as for the age estimates, there
was a significant main effect of cranial hair. As to be expected, a decrease in the amount
of hair increased perceived age (29.0, 30.6, 34.9 years, respectively; given that the
models’ actual age ranged from 19 to 25 years only, these figures are surprisingly high).
On both the Aggressiveness and the Attractivenenes factor, full hair yielded significantly
higher ratings than the receding or bald condition. The reverse was true for the
Appeasement and Social Maturity ratings. (The difference between the receding and the
bald condition was not significant with regard to Aggressiveness and Social Maturity, but
a receding hairline yielded significantly higher Appeasement and Attractiveness ratings
than the bald face.) The pattern of results was not changed when perceived age was
controlled as a covariate. Overall, the effects of cranial hair were perfectly in line with
the multiple fitness model.
Recently, we have also completed a study in which the same individuals were presented
both with and without hair. Targets were 9 men ranging in age from approximately 30 to
55 years. For each model there were two pictures, one showing a full head of hair and
another one depicting a fully developed androgenetic alopecia. (For five models, who had
full hair, the hair was digitally retouched; three models, who were bald, were
photographed with a hairpiece.) The experiment was conducted on the internet, both in
an English and a German version. Overall, there were more than 1700 participants
Ronald Henss: Social perceptions of male pattern baldness.
(English/German version: 52/48 per cent; females/males: 80/20 per cent). Each subject
judged a single photograph on 80 attributes and estimated the target’s age in years. A
factor analysis yielded four factors of personality impressions, which were interpreted as
(Sexual) Attractiveness (e.g., sexy, seductive, successful with women, good lover), Good
Spouse (e.g., good natured, family oriented, faithful spouse, good father), Career/Intellect
(e.g., successful in his job, career oriented, intelligent, high occupational prestige), Self-
Assertiveness (e.g., self-assertive, timid(-), nervous (-), reserved (-)). The amount for
cranial hair had no significant effect on the Good Spouse and the Intellect/Career factor.
However, there were significant differences with regard to Self-Assertiveness and
(Sexual) Attractiveness. In both cases a full head of hair was judged much more positively
than a bald head. These results were not changed when the estimated age was introduced
as covariate. In line with expectations, the males were seen as significantly older when
they were bald compared to the full hair condition. For the 9 targets the difference ranged
from 0.5 to almost 5 years. The analyses also included the identity of the individual target
as independent variable. Fully in line with our previous research on facial judgments (and
contrary to the above mentioned results of Sigelman et al. [43]), this factor yielded highly
significant effects on each factor of personality impressions as well as the age estimates;
and it always accounted for a large portion of the variance. Perhaps even more
importantly, the interaction ‘Individual x Hair Condition’ was also significant for each
dependent variable. The following example should clarify the importance of this finding:
Although, overall, a bald head was detrimental to Sexual Attractiveness, one model
actually received (slightly) more positive evaluations under this condition.
Overall, the empirical research on strangers’ perceptions of male pattern baldness yields
a rather gloomy picture. Although Cash’s conclusion that “hair loss had a nearly uniform,
adverse impact on how the men were initially perceived by others” ([7], p.159) needs
some qualifications it seems fair to conclude that baldness may convey a number of
negative impressions while there are few positive effects, if any.
Not surprisingly, the loss of cranial hair has a strong impact on perceived age. A bald
head appears to be considerably older than one with a full head of hair. The negative
impact on perceived age is paralleled by a decline in sexual attractiveness. The apparent
diminution of virility and sexual vigor is perhaps the root of the intense preoccupation
with hair loss which has been documented throughout the history of modern man. With
regard to the broad range of personality impressions that have been studied, the negative
effects clearly outweigh the positive ones. For many variables, however, the empirical
Ronald Henss: Social perceptions of male pattern baldness.
evidence is mixed, or there appear to be no substantial effects of baldness at all. An
interesting example is perceived intelligence. Four studies reported a positive effect of
baldness [19, 33, 42, 46]. Notably, three of them are of questionable ecological validity
because they relied on line drawings or schematic computer composed faces. The studies
that employed facial photographs suggest that male pattern baldness may have little
impact on perceptions of intelligence and related attributes.
Although there is no doubt that hair is an important factor of person perception, one should
always bear in mind that it is only one aspect among many others. The huge literature on
face perception demonstrates that our impressions of other people are based on complex
processes which rely on the whole configuration, the Gestalt [2, 21]. Thus, the impression
value of a bald head may drastically change with a change of the facial configuration. For
example, one may expect that baldness on a round face with large eyes, a small nose, a
small mouth, and a small chin would lead to the well known cluster of impressions that
are typically associated with babyfaced individuals [48], while, on the other hand,
baldness on a square head with bushy eyebrows, a prominent nose, and a large chin would
evoke quite different impressions. Unfortunately, the important role of the individual
target has been largely neglected in previous research.
Final remarks: Although the major effects of male pattern baldness concern the
psychological and the social realm, there can be no doubt that its causes are biological.
Throughout the ages an endless number of endeavors to discover an effective cure were
doomed. However, recent progress in medical research has revealed the underlying
biochemical mechanisms. For the first time in human history, there are effective
prescriptions, and even more efficient means will be developed. It is an exciting question,
how the availability of effective medical treatments will affect the perception of baldness
in future generations.
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... This lack of research is surprising as the loss of hair carries considerable stigma in both men and women, with baldness cures dating back to 4000 BC (Henss, 2001). Men are highly aware of cranial hair loss and how important it is with respect to how they are viewed by themselves and others. ...
... Studies over decades have shown that bald or balding men are perceived as less physically attractive (Blaker et al., 2020;Cash, 1990;Hellström & Telke, 1994;Mannes, 2013;Moerman, 1988;Muscarella & Cunningham, 1996;Roll & Vernis, 1971). Men with a full head of hair are also rated higher in personal likability (Cash, 1990), confidence (Lee et al., 2002), self-assertiveness (Henss, 2001), masculinity (Butler et al., 1998;Hellström & Telke, 1994), aggressiveness (Muscarella & Cunningham, 1996), intelligence (Blaker et al., 2020), health (Blaker et al., 2020), sexual attractiveness (Henss, 2001), and potency (Lee et al., 2002;Roll & Vernis, 1971). ...
... Studies over decades have shown that bald or balding men are perceived as less physically attractive (Blaker et al., 2020;Cash, 1990;Hellström & Telke, 1994;Mannes, 2013;Moerman, 1988;Muscarella & Cunningham, 1996;Roll & Vernis, 1971). Men with a full head of hair are also rated higher in personal likability (Cash, 1990), confidence (Lee et al., 2002), self-assertiveness (Henss, 2001), masculinity (Butler et al., 1998;Hellström & Telke, 1994), aggressiveness (Muscarella & Cunningham, 1996), intelligence (Blaker et al., 2020), health (Blaker et al., 2020), sexual attractiveness (Henss, 2001), and potency (Lee et al., 2002;Roll & Vernis, 1971). ...
Full-text available
The question of whether or not cranial hair affects perceptions of attractiveness, personality, career success, and other traits related to fitness for men in two populations was investigated in two experiments. Experiment 1 used a 2 (race) × 2 (cranial hair of man) design, and examined attractiveness, fitness, and socially desirable personality measures. Experiment 2 used a 2 (race) × 2 (cranial hair) design to determine perceived attractiveness, fitness-related traits, and the Big-5 dimensions of personality. Amount of cranial hair did not affect personality ratings on the dimensions of the Big-5 but did affect perceived socially desired aspects of personality (such as warmth, sophistication, kindness, etc.). In Experiment 1, the White man with hair received higher perceived attractiveness, personality, and fitness ratings than the bald White man, while no differences occurred for the Black men. For Experiment 2, when differences for amount of cranial hair occurred, the White man with hair and the Black man without hair received higher perceived fitness and career success ratings. These results are discussed in terms of prior research on male cranial hair.
... Contrary to the "naked ape" image, the key functions of human hair are protection, social communication, and signaling, with hair having high significance for both males and females across a wide range of cultures (Randall, 2008) in both social and psychological experiences (Henss, 2001). Hence, despite hair's primal function as protection (e.g., camouflage, insulation), its importance as a form of social communication or status has increased over time. ...
... Because good scalps are a sign of health compared with the sparse or brittle hair seen during disease or starvation (Randall, 2008, p. 314), medicine has a long history of concern with baldness. For example, Hippocrates (400 BC) notes that eunuchs do not become bald (Henss, 2001), while the oldest recorded medical prescription (dating back to the Egyptians 5,000 years ago) is for treatment against baldness (Parrotto, 1961, cited in Muscarella & Cunningham, 1996. Today, we know that disposition toward balding is positively correlated with a higher ratio of DHT/testosterone (Knussmann, Christiansen, & Kannmacher, 1992), while baldness itself is associated not with total testosterone but with the amount of testosterone that is not bound to proteins in the blood (i.e., free testosterone; Demark-Wahnefried et al., 1997). ...
... Mannes (2013) also finds that hairless scalps are associated with increased perceptions of dominance and that men with hairless scalps are perceived to be taller and stronger than they actually are. Methodologically, Henss (2001) criticizes the ecological validity of studies that rely on line drawings or schematic computer-composed faces, a problem that we do not face as we use real political leaders' faces. ...
How are masculine‐looking politicians perceived by voters? Are these judgments accurate? We asked Australian survey participants to rate images of unknown‐to‐them Swiss politicians. We find that politicians with prominent markers of masculinity (including facial hair, baldness, and higher facial width‐to‐height ratio) are perceived as less honest and competent. To determine whether these perceptions correlate with political behavior, we exploit two unique features of Swiss politics. First, to check for politician–voter congruence, we match each politician's voting record to that of their constituents on identically worded legislative proposals. We find that bearded politicians are less likely to behave according to constituents' preferences. Second, by exploiting the mandatory disclosure of lobby group affiliations, we show that bearded politicians are less likely to be captured by interest groups. Our results suggest that more masculine‐looking politicians are recognized by both voters and lobby groups as less amenable to being controlled.
... Although most relevant studies agree that bald or balding men are perceived as less physically attractive (Cash, 1990;Hellström & Telke, 1994;Mannes, 2013;Moerman, 1988;Muscarella & Cunningham, 1996;Roll & Verinis, 1971; but see also Butler, Pryor, & Grieder, 1998;Sigelman, Dawson, Nitz, & Whicker, 1990;Wogalter & Hosie, 1991), only some show analogous effects on the evaluation of social attractiveness (Cash, 1990;Moerman, 1988), while others show no such effects (Hellström & Telke, 1994;Mannes, 2013;Muscarella & Cunningham, 1996;Roll & Verinis, 1971). Noteworthy, all these studies vary considerably in their experimental design and the samples, materials, and measures used, so that comparisons across studies are difficult (for a review, see Henss, 2001). ...
... A review of experimental research on the social perception of MPB (Henss, 2001) showed that male hair loss, by and large, has a negative impact on the perception of physical attractiveness ("handsome appearance") but an ambiguous effect on the perception of social attractiveness ("likeable impression"). This conflicts with the PAS prediction of a consistently negative impact on both attractiveness dimensions (Dion et al., 1972). ...
... This conflicts with the PAS prediction of a consistently negative impact on both attractiveness dimensions (Dion et al., 1972). Importantly, however, all studies reviewed by Henss (2001) used explicit ratings of target attractiveness and none of them systematically examined effects of presenting individuating target information, a variable known to have a gatekeeper function in stereotype application (Kunda & Thagard, 1996). The present research addressed this twofold desideratumsystematical variation of individuating information on bald versus nonbald target males and measurement of both explicit and implicit evaluations. ...
Full-text available
According to (a) the beauty ideal of a full head of hair and (b) the physical attractiveness stereotype (PAS; "what is beautiful is good"), bald men should appear less attractive than nonbald men, not only physically but also socially. To explain inconsistent results on this prediction in previous research, we suggest two antagonistic processes: the automatic activation of the PAS at the implicit level and its suppression at the explicit level, the latter process selectively triggered by individuating information about the target person. In line with this account, we only found negative social attractiveness ratings for bald men by same-aged women when individuating target information was lacking (Experiment 1). In contrast, irrespective of whether individuating information was available or not, we reliably found evidence for the PAS in different implicit paradigms (the implicit association test in Experiment 2 and a source monitoring task in Experiment 3). We conclude that individuating information about bald men suppresses PAS application, but not PAS activation.
... In Experimenten mit manipulierten Fotos in Bewerbungsmappen erhielten Bewerber mit Halbglatze oder Glatze deutlich seltener Einladungen zum Vorstellungsgespräch. Darüber hinaus wurden sie auch als weniger karriereorientiert und weniger kreativ angesehen. Obwohl die Beurteiler nur die Gesichter sahen, wurden die behaarten Bewerber 4 Jahre jünger und größer eingeschätzt (Henss 2001;Mai 2003). ...
Wir haben es in diesem Kapitel mit den Klassikern des Lernens zu tun: Pawlow und Skinner. Dabei schließen wir uns der These an, dass sich Pawlow geirrt hat. Der Hund hatte keinen Reflex, sondern eine Erwartungshaltung, und hat, weil er aktiv an seinem Essen interessiert war, gesabbert. Die Lerntheorie von Skinner ist kaum zu hinterfragen. Wir lernen durch Belohnung. Wir lernen aber auch durch Beobachtung, ohne eine Handlung selber ausgeführt zu haben. Das zeigt uns Bandura. Außerdem lernen wir den Ansatz von Hull kennen, wonach sich das Reaktionspotenzial einer Person auf einen Reiz aus einer Verknüpfung von Gewohnheit, Bedürfnisstärke, Reizstärke und sozialem Druck ergibt.
... 4. This depiction is bolstered by research on balding stigmatization; some of which supports the idea that baldness is associated with some negative connotations (such as aging), while some show neutral or positive connotations (for a review see: Henss, 2001). This campaign and research promotes the idea baldness needs to be changed rather than stigma and fails to account for research showing baldness stigma may not translate into meaningful behaviors (Sigelman et al., 1990), may be mitigated when individuating information about the balding person is available (Kranz et al., 2019) or by other aspects of appearance such as facial hair or glasses (Blaker et al., 2020;Muscarella and Cunningham, 1996). 5. Table 1 lists these key findings from the research and a fuller synthesis of findings is available in Frith and Jankowski (2021). ...
Full-text available
Male baldness is physically benign though it is increasingly described as a “disease” based on claims that it is profoundly distressing. The medicalization of baldness was assessed using data extracted from a review of 37 male baldness psychosocial impact studies. Findings revealed most studies likely had commercial influences (78%), represented baldness as a disease (77%), were conducted on biased samples (68%), and advocated for baldness products/services (60%), omitting their limitations (68%). Health psychologists should challenge baldness medicalization so that men can make informed choices about what, if anything, they do with their baldness.
... Produk tersebut digunakan oleh sebagian besar laki-laki berusia dewasa menengah yang mulai mengalami penurunan secara fisik. Penurunan fisik yang terjadi pada usia tersebut yaitu mengalami kerontokan rambut (Henss, 2001). Seiring bertambahnya usia, laki-laki pada tahap dewasa menengah cenderung mengalami kerontokan rambut hingga menimbulkan kebotakan. ...
Penelitian ini bertujuan untuk mengungkapkan secara mendalam terkait persepsi sosial laki-laki terhadap perilaku male grooming. Metode penelitian yang digunakan adalah pendekatan kualitatif dan model penelitian fenomenologi. Partisipan pada penelitian ini adalah tiga laki-laki berusia dewasa awal yang tidak melakukan perilaku male grooming dan memiliki teman pria dengan perilaku grooming. Pengumpulan data dilakukan dengan wawancara semi terstruktur dan observasi. Teknik analisis data menggunakan analisis tematik dan validasi data menggunakan validitas interpretif, triangulasi sumber, dan member checking. Hasil penelitian menunjukkan bahwa persepsi sosial laki-laki terhadap perilaku male grooming adalah aktivitas berdandan yang dilakukan oleh laki-laki untuk memenuhi suatu kebutuhan yaitu tuntutan pekerjaan dan perawatan diri
Discussion of the nature of personal aesthetics, or physical attractiveness, seems to alternate between two positions, which we term Natural Classicism and Cultural Constructivism. These two positions are illustrated in fashion historian Julian Robinson’s (1998) account of a conversation that he had with art historian Sir Kenneth Clark: “Sir Kenneth Clark said that...his own interests lay in classical styles of beauty as seen from a purely Mediterranean viewpoint, which had reached its zenith in the marble sculptures of ancient Greece. He explained that to a great extent the aesthetic appeal of such beauty depended on perfect symmetry, regular features, and an unvarying adherence to the prevailing classical ideals of shape, form and measurable proportions. In turn, I explained that my inclinations and convictions had become firmly rooted in the notion that human beauty is a reflection of cultural perceptions and inherited ideas of aesthetics, and that such aesthetics were not immutable...I went on to say that all human ideals and notions of beauty appeared to be inextricably linked to the varying forms of symbolism to which cultural groups appear to become “addicted” and which by ritual becomes an important aspect of their lives, and that each new generation learns these notions and addictions in the same way as it learns all other cultural matters - thus human beauty exists only in the eyes of those with the specific knowledge and cultural heritage to perceive it.” (pp. 13–14)
Three studies contribute to the literature on dominance and nonverbal behavior (Ellyson & Dovidio, 1985) by examining how a man’s choice to shave his head influences person perception. In Study 1, men with shaved heads were rated as more dominant than similar men with full heads of hair. In Study 2, men whose hair was digitally removed were perceived as more dominant, taller, and stronger than their authentic selves. Study 3 extends these results with nonphotographic stimuli and demonstrates how men experiencing natural hair loss may improve their interpersonal standing by shaving. Theories of signaling, norm violation, and stereotypes are examined as explanations for the effect. Practical implications for men’s psychological, social, and economic outlooks are also discussed.
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Ethological reports of animal dominance signals suggested that certain human brow and mouth gestures would influence the attributions of social dominance made by children. Stimulus photographs depicting adults with lowered brow expressions or without smiles were hypothesized to appear dominant relative to photographs showing adults with raised-brow expressions or with smiles, respectively. In addition, the cross-species record suggested that faces with physiognomic characteristics indicative of physical maturity would also look dominant. In tests of these hypotheses, children between 4 and 7 years of age heard stories describing social dominance interactions and chose photographs of adults who looked like the dominant characters described in the stories. The results confirmed predictions and indicated that human nonverbal dominance signaling may be patterned after that of other species.
36 male and 44 female college students were presented with a series of 15 stimuli which were designed to represent the variables of hair color, hair length, quantity of scalp hair, hair quality and amount of facial hair. Each stimulus was rated on scales representing the Evaluative, Potency, and Activity dimensions. The proposition that stereotypes are identifiable was strongly confirmed. Of 18 specific predictions 15 were also confirmed. Explanation in full of these findings was not effected.
-For a scenario describing a slender male 160 male students indicated more favorable ratings as more assertive, better supervisor, and more acceptable to others. The most salient features of a social interaction are the physical characteristics of the actors and it has been shown that various physical dimensions elicit particular trait attributions. For instance. it has been found that muscular body build is linked to favorable personal traits, while obese, and to lesser extent, slender body build is associated with negative stereotypes (1, 2, 3, 5). Others (4, 7) examined the emotive or personality attributions made to physiognomy and kinestic cues. Hair length has been related to evaluations made of a male target (6). Few studies have attempted to link physical characteristics to specific performance-related attributes. The purpose of this study was to determine whether individuals would utilize information about physical characteristics in making job-related evaluations of a hypothetical person. One hundred and sixty male undergraduates were randomly administered one of eight scenarios in which a hypothetical male applicant was being considered for promotion to a managerial position in a large company. The description of the applicant varied along the following three physical dimensions: height (tall vs short), physique (slender vs obese), and cranial hair (full vs bald). After reading a particular scenario, each subjea predicted the extent to which subordinates and colleagues would accept the applicant as a supervisor and the subject rated the applicant on various job-related behaviors, e.g., assertiveness and fairness. Ratings were given on 7-point scales. A 2 (height) X 2 (physique) x 2 (cranial hair) analysis for completely randomized groups showed no significant main effects for height or cranial hair. However, a number of significant effects were found for physique. The slender applicant was rated over the obese applicant as more assertive (Slender M = 7.87, SD = 1.48; Obese M = 6.92, SD = 2.0; p < ,001). as making a better supervisor (Slender M = 7.49, SD = 2.15; Obese M = 6.81, SD = 2.45; p < .05), and as being more favorably accepted by colleagues (Slender M = 7.87. SD = 1.38; Obese M = 6.98; SD = 1.83; fi < ,001) and by subordinates (Slender M = 7.87, SD = 1.60; Obese M = 6.70, SD = 1.89; p < .05). As mentioned earlier, researchers have found a negative stereotype associated with an endomorphic body build. This study supports the ubiquirousness and potency of this unfavorable stereotype in U. S. society. Such individuals are typically described as mentally unhealthy and as lacking in self-confidence and personal incentive. Such a stereotype is not suggestive of a leadership role. Moreover, the subjects in this study may have perceived height and cranial hair as outside of one's personal control, whereas body weight may be voluntarily regulated and therefore more negative attributions were assigoed to the overweight applicant.
Doth not nature itself teach you, that if a man have long hair it is a shame unto him? But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her. So wrote St. Paul to the people of Corinth (1 Cor. 11: 14- 15); the shame of one sex is the glory of the opposite sex. Indeed the debate over hair symbolism is both ancient and complex, and applies not only to gender but also to politics, as Hippies, Skins and Punks, among others, have recently demonstrated. Hair is perhaps our most powerful symbol of individual and group identity powerful first because it is physical and therefore extremely personal, and second because, although personal, it is also public rather than private. Furthermore, hair symbolism is usually voluntary rather than imposed or 'given'. Finally, hair is malleable, in various ways, and therefore singularly apt to symbolize both differentiations between, and changes in, individual and group identities. The immense social significance of hair is indicated by economics: the hair industry is worth $2.5 billion in the USA (New York Times, 7.1.85).
The handicap principle, first proposed by Zahavi about 17 years ago, has in the past several years become widely accepted as a central unifying theory explaining many previously baffling aspects of animal signalling and communication. It is arguably the most important theoretical advance in animal behaviour in recent years. Basically, the theory states that to be effective, signals must be reliable, and to be reliable, they must be costly to the signaller. This fundamental insight is then developed to explain and illuminate much of animal and human behaviour - why the peacock’s tail is so ornate, and why antelope will spend energy stetting or leaping into the air, when they see a predator, instead of running away, but also how humans test each others’ commitment by imposing burdens during courtship. Signals are paid attention to only if the signal itself imposes a handicap on the signaller that would make cheating impossible or unprofitable, This book explores the very wide-ranging implications of the handicap principle, for predator-prey relations, sexual selection, parent-offspring relations, coalitions and alliances, and the persistence of altruism, in animals and also in human societies and intercellular signalling within multicellular organisms.
This chapter examines people's perceptions of individuals of different ages and the social and psychological consequences of these age-related judgments. The chapter considers age as a salient and significant component of social judgments. It essentially describes the nature of the physical information that differentiates people on the basis of age and exhibit that social perceivers are very sensitive to this information, using it not only to identify a person's age but also to categorize people and to guide interpersonal behavior. Moreover, the chapter reviews the age-overgeneralization effects that can contribute in significant ways both to first impressions of people and to certain group stereotypes. It also examines the influence of age-based social judgments on people's social outcomes as well as their psychological development. The role of age in people's self-identities is explored in the chapter. The chapter concludes with the discussion of consequences of age, by considering the relative impact of age-related indications on social judgments in comparison to other factors.
Background: Androgenetic alopecia (male pattern hair loss) is caused by androgen-dependent miniaturization of scalp hair follicles, with scalp dihydrotestosterone (DHT) implicated as a contributing cause. Finasteride, an inhibitor of type II 5α-reductase, decreases serum and scalp DHT by inhibiting conversion of testosterone to DHT. Objective: Our purpose was to determine whether finasteride treatment leads to clinical improvement in men with male pattern hair loss. Methods: In two 1-year trials, 1553 men (18 to 41 years of age) with male pattern hair loss received oral finasteride 1 mg/d or placebo, and 1215 men continued in blinded extension studies for a second year. Efficacy was evaluated by scalp hair counts, patient and investigator assessments, and review of photographs by an expert panel. Results: Finasteride treatment improved scalp hair by all evaluation techniques at 1 and 2 years (P < .001 vs placebo, all comparisons). Clinically significant increases in hair count (baseline = 876 hairs), measured in a 1-inch diameter circular area (5.1 cm2 ) of balding vertex scalp, were observed with finasteride treatment (107 and 138 hairs vs placebo at 1 and 2 years, respectively; P < .001). Treatment with placebo resulted in progressive hair loss. Patients’ self-assessment demonstrated that finasteride treatment slowed hair loss, increased hair growth, and improved appearance of hair. These improvements were corroborated by investigator assessments and assessments of photographs. Adverse effects were minimal. Conclusion: In men with male pattern hair loss, finasteride 1 mg/d slowed the progression of hair loss and increased hair growth in clinical trials over 2 years. (J Am Acad Dermatol 1998;39:578-89.)