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It grows on you: Perceptions of sales/service personnel with facial hair

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Abstract

Service and sales personnel researchers have long been interested in the effects of physical appearance on sales and service outcomes. In the current work, we examine a specific physical feature—facial hair. Interestingly, evolutionary psychologists have found that facial hair does not consistently increase perceived attractiveness (Dixson and Vasey, 2012, Dixson et al., 2013), but it does serve as an indicator of masculine traits. The present research examines how males with beards are perceived in a sales/service specific context. We present five studies, in which the power of the beard (versus other facial hair styles or no hair) is evident. Sales personnel with a beard are perceived as having more expertise across various industries; furthermore, increased perceptions of expertise predict higher ratings of trustworthiness and, subsequently, increase consumers’ purchase likelihood.

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... While this finding suggests male facial hair does not solely influence intra-sexually relevant traits, it replicates past findings (Craig et al., 2019). On one hand beardedness increases perceptions of positive social attributes like generosity, courageousness, self-confidence (Dixson & Brooks, 2013), competence and trustworthiness (Mittal & Silvera, 2020). Yet on the other hand facial hair reduces perceptions of warmth (Fetscherin et al., 2020) and increases perceptions of strength, dominance, and aggressiveness (Dixson, 2021). ...
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In spite of feminist recognition that hierarchical organizations are an important location of male dominance, most feminists writing about organizations assume that organizational structure is gender neutral. This article argues that organizational structure is not gender neutral; on the contrary, assumptions about gender underlie the documents and contracts used to construct organizations and to provide the commonsense ground for theorizing about them. Their gendered nature is partly masked through obscuring the embodied nature of work. Abstract jobs and hierarchies, common concepts in organizational thinking, assume a disembodies and universal worker. This worker is actually a man; men's bodies, sexuality, and relationships to procreation and paid work are subsumed in the image of the worker. Images of men's bodies and masculinity pervade organizational processes, marginalizing women and contributing to the maintenance of gender segregation in organizations. The positing of gender-neutral and disembodied organizational structures and work relations is part of the larger strategy of control in industrial capitalist societies, which, at least partly, are built upon a deeply embedded substructure of gender difference.
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Purpose – This paper seeks to explore drivers and consequences of customer trust in the salesperson in the financial services industry. Its theoretical foundations are based on literature on customers' interpersonal relationships with salespeople and front-line employees, as well as on literature in the area of customer trust. Design/methodology/approach – A conceptual model, specifying a set of hypotheses linking a salesperson's behaviours to customer trust, and the latter to behavioural loyalty intentions, was tested using partial least squares (PLS) on a sample of 150 customers in the Italian banking industry. Multiple models were compared in order to evaluate the mediating role of customer trust. Findings – The results of the empirical study show that both salesperson's customer orientation and expertise positively influence customer trust in the salesperson. Conversely, selling orientation has a negative impact on it. Moreover, a salesperson's likeability does not influence customer trust. Finally, trust in the salesperson positively influences a customer's intentions to re-buy/cross-buy and to recommend, while it decreases a customer's intention to switch to competitors. Research limitations/implications – The study suggests that different relational antecedents may have different impacts on different relational mediators and outcomes. Since the mechanisms of interpersonal relationship formation and development are multifaceted, to understand fully the complexity of relational phenomena researchers should develop and test models incorporating multiple relational antecedents and outcomes. Practical implications – The study provides sales managers with some evidence of the behaviours that salespeople should adopt to influence successfully the creation of long-term relationships, especially in the context of “credence” services. The findings suggest that the optimal behaviours of salespeople may vary, depending on the ultimate goal of the sellers' relational strategy. The authors suggest drivers that managers can leverage to stimulate salespeople to perform the desired behaviours. Originality/value – The model tested in the empirical study highlights the mediating role of customer trust and incorporates a broad set of drivers and consequences of interpersonal trust. As such, it improves knowledge of trust-building processes in the context of credence services, where trust and interpersonal relationships are very relevant.
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It was predicted that men would emphasize sexually-selected traits, including mustaches, beards, and sideburns, when they have difficulty obtaining spouses. Using annual data on British beard fashions extending from 1842–1971, it was found that mustaches, and facial hair in general, are more frequent when there is a good supply of single men of marriageable age. Facial hair fashions, particularly mustaches and beards, were reduced when illegitimacy ratios were high. Regression analyses showed that the relationship between mustache fashion and the marriage market and illegitimacy, respectively, is independent of linear time trend. Results suggest that facial hair is worn to enhance a man's marriage prospects by increasing physical attractiveness and perception of social status. Men shave their mustaches, possibly to convey an impression of trustworthiness, when the marriage market is weak and women might fear sexual exploitation and desertion.
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The influence of facial hair on the perception of a job applicant by persons in business was examined in this study. Subjects were 228 persons in management positions who made hiring decisions. Subjects were shown ink sketches of six male job applicants. The sketches varied on three facial hair dimensions-clean shaven, moustached, and bearded. Sketches were evaluated on semantic differential scales. Results indicated consistently more positive perceptions of social/physical attractiveness, personality, competency, and composure for men with facial hair.
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Investigated the influence of salespersons' race and sex on initial impressions of White buyers. 107 White organizational buyers and civilian governmental buyers (average age 38.2 yrs) viewed artist sketches of sales personnel differentiated only by race and sex and responded to a hypothetical buying scenario through a descriptive adjectives instrument (J. Wilding and A. B. Raymond, 1968). Factor analysis showed the 3-factor structure of competence/trust, power, and likability. Black females were perceived as the strongest on the power factor, and significantly more so than White females and Black males. White males were perceived as stronger on the likability factor than both Black males and females while White females were perceived as stronger than Black females on the likability factor. Results showed no significant main effect for gender or significant gender-treatment interaction. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)