Wide-faced men make others act selfishly

September 16, 2013
A series of studies by two UC Riverside assistant professors shows individuals behave more selfishly when interacting with men with wider faces. Credit: Luis Sanz

Two assistant professors of management at the University of California, Riverside and several other researchers have previously shown that men with wider faces are more aggressive, less trustworthy and more prone to engaging in deception.

Now, in a just-published paper, they have shown, in a series of four studies, that individuals behave more selfishly when interacting with with wider faces and this selfish behavior elicits in others.

"This clearly shows that this behavior is also socially driven, not just biologically driven," said Michael P. Haselhuhn, an assistant professor of management at UC Riverside's School of Business Administration, who is the lead author of the paper.

He co-authored the paper with Elaine M. Wong, also an assistant professor of management at UC Riverside, and Margaret E. Ormiston, an assistant professor of organisational behavior at London Business School. The paper, "Self-Fulfilling Prophecies as a Link between Men's Facial Width-to-Height Ratio and Behavior," was published in the journal PLOS ONE.

The paper builds on two previous papers written by Haselhuhn and Wong.

In a 2011 paper, "A face only an investor could love: CEOs' predicts their firms' ," published in the journal Psychological Science, they found men with wider faces tend to lead more financially successful firms.

With "Bad to the bone: Facial structure predicts unethical behaviour," which was co-published with Ormiston in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B in 2012, they found men with wider faces are more likely to lie and cheat.

These two papers, plus the just-published paper, show the significance of the underlying mechanism of power, Wong said.

"People need to think more carefully about how they use power and how they can use it in helpful ways," she said.

The work also shows the importance of appearance when selecting a CEO, especially as CEOs increasingly become the face of organizations.

"We don't expect organizations to select their CEO based on the shape of their face, but first impressions do matter," Wong said.

The four studies conducted as part of the just-published paper involved between 131 to 207 participants each.

In the first study, the researchers established a relationship between facial width-to-height ratio (fWHR) and general self-interest, demonstrating that men with higher fWHRs behaved more selfishly when dividing resources between themselves and a partner.

In two subsequent studies, the researchers examined the same decisions from the partner's point of view and showed that partners change their own behavior based on a target's fWHR.

In the final study, they showed that the partners' behavior, based on the targets' fWHR, leads the target to act in ways consistent with the partners' expectations. This shows a link between men's fWHR and behavior, which otherwise may be attributed to biological factors, but is also a function of social responses to men's facial structure.

Explore further: What determines a company's performance? The shape of the CEO's face

Related Stories

What determines a company's performance? The shape of the CEO's face

August 25, 2011
Believe it or not, one thing that predicts how well a CEO's company performs is the width of his face. CEOs with wider faces, like Herb Kelleher, the former CEO of Southwest Airlines, have better-performing companies than ...

Facial structure may predict endorsement of racial prejudice

February 13, 2013
The structure of a man's face may indicate his tendency to express racially prejudiced beliefs, according to new research published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

Having a short wide face may indicate sporting potential, study shows

April 9, 2013
The shape of a man's face can help predict his sporting acumen, according to a study on Wednesday that found Japanese baseball players whose faces were relatively broad rather than long were most likely to hit a home run.

Are wider faced men more self-sacrificing?

June 4, 2012
Picture a stereotypical tough guy and you might imagine a man with a broad face, a square jaw, and a stoical demeanor. Existing research even supports this association, linking wider, more masculine faces with several less-than-cuddly ...

Recommended for you

Inflamed support cells appear to contribute to some kinds of autism

October 18, 2017
Modeling the interplay between neurons and astrocytes derived from children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine, with colleagues in Brazil, say innate ...

Study suggests psychedelic drugs could reduce criminal behavior

October 18, 2017
Classic psychedelics such as psilocybin (often called magic mushrooms), LSD and mescaline (found in peyote) are associated with a decreased likelihood of antisocial criminal behavior, according to new research from investigators ...

Taking probiotics may reduce postnatal depression

October 18, 2017
Researchers from the University of Auckland and Otago have found evidence that a probiotic given in pregnancy can help prevent or treat symptoms of postnatal depression and anxiety.

Before assigning responsibility, our minds simulate alternative outcomes, study shows

October 17, 2017
How do people assign a cause to events they witness? Some philosophers have suggested that people determine responsibility for a particular outcome by imagining what would have happened if a suspected cause had not intervened.

Schizophrenia disrupts the brain's entire communication system, researchers say

October 17, 2017
Some 40 years since CT scans first revealed abnormalities in the brains of schizophrenia patients, international scientists say the disorder is a systemic disruption to the brain's entire communication system.

For older adults, volunteering could improve brain function

October 17, 2017
Older adults worried about losing their cognitive functions could consider volunteering as a potential boost, according to a University of Missouri researcher. While volunteering and its associations with physical health ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.