Men's Facial Structure Predictor of Success Level?

New research suggested that men with the sort of wider faces that indicate higher testosterone levels show greater dominance and fare better than narrow-faced men in negotiations.

New research suggested that men with the sort of wider faces that indicate higher testosterone levels show greater dominance and fare better than narrow-faced men in negotiations.

Papers published in The Leadership Quarterly and Biology Letters add to a growing body of evidence that appearance can often predict behavior, perception, or both.

The authors of the first paper compared the performance of wide- and narrow-faced men at one business school in 4 negotiating exercises. Each of those exercises pitted dozens of students against each other, sometimes independently and sometimes in teams.

In an exercise designed to simulate haggling over signing bonuses, wide-faced men negotiated an average of $2,200 more for themselves than narrow-faced men. In an exercise designed to simulate the purchase and sale of property, wide-faced men tended to sell for more than narrow-faced men and buy for less.

But wide-faced men fared worse than their narrow-faced counterparts in exercises that required creative cooperation. In these exercises, the top price that buyers could profitably offer was lower than the bottom price that sellers could profitably accept, and the only way to make a beneficial pact was via a side deal such as offering the seller a position at the buyer’s company. Narrow-faced men significantly outperformed wide-faced men on such tasks.

“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,” said lead author Michael P.

Haselhuhn, an assistant professor of management at the University of California, Riverside’s School of Business Administration.

The new paper is one of several on the topic of facial width that Haselhuhn and a number of collaborators have published in recent years.

A paper that appeared in Biological Sciences in 2011 concluded that men with greater facial width-to-height ratios were more likely to lie and cheat in negotiations and that “the link between facial metrics and unethical behavior is mediated by a psychological sense of power.”

Another paper published in Psychological Science found that companies led by men with relatively wide faces outperformed companies led by men with narrower faces.

Haselhuhn believes that the underlying biology of wider faces, biology that includes both genes and higher testosterone levels, plays a major role in such findings, but his work also suggested that social perceptions play an integral role as well.

Another study, led by Carmen Lefevre of Leeds University, concluded wide-faced men and wide-faced women both tend to be more aggressive overall than their narrow-faced counterparts, and that they often perceive themselves as more aggressive.

Lefevre’s team reached this conclusion of measuring the faces of 49 women and 54 men, all aged 18 to 30, and then asked them a series of questions designed to assess dominance, aggression, anger, and hostility.

Like Haselhuhn, and others, Lefevre speculated that higher testosterone levels may explain the results, at least in part.

That said, none of them have tested the theory by measuring testosterone levels as well as facial shapes, nor have they investigated whether they could eliminate the gaps by raising the testosterone levels of narrow-faced men with testosterone replacement.