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Psychology Research Takes A Look Into How We Perceive Those With Shaved Heads

Updated on May 3, 2013

Background on the Study

This study was conducted by Albert Mannes who lectures at the Wharton School in Pennsylvania. Like many men who have started to experience severe hair loss and thinning, he decided to shave the rest of his hair off.

After doing so, he noticed that people responded to him much differently. He said they were far more stand offish and aloof compared to when he had hair.

This inspired him to design a research study to find out more

Study on Shaved Heads Discussed on the Rhodes Show

How the Study Was Done

Mannes' research effort was divided into three separate studies. Participants were shown images of men wearing their hair in a variety of different styles. They were then asked to rate them according to certain traits. These included:
(1) physical strength
(2) dominance
(3) attractiveness
(4) age

59 female students were shown images of 25 males (of black and white ethnicities).
- 10/25 had complete shaved heads
- 15/25 had a full head of hair (no signs of hair loss)

In the second study, 367 adults participated. They were found online. Each of the subjects were shown 8 images of the same men from the first study. Half were shown images where these men had full hair. The other half were shown altered images where the men were presented as completely bald


The men with the shaved heads were perceived as more dominant in the first study.

The results showed that the images with the shaved heads ranked significantly higher for the variables of:
(1) dominance
(2) confidence
(3) height
(4) masculinity
(5) age
(6) physical strength

What is interesting is that the shaved head males were perceived as taller by an inch. And they were also seen as physically stronger by about 13%!

On the flip side, they were also judged as being less attractive.

A Shaved Head Can Make You Seem More Dominant- But Why?

A shaved head seems to be associated with dominance, according to the findings of this study. Although the majority of men tend to fret over losing their hair, why would complete hair loss cause others to perceive them as being more dominant?

Mannes believes that going completely bald is a non verbal signal of confidence. Instead of worrying and trying to make up for hair loss, a person who rebelliously gets rid of all their hair can be viewed as confident enough to not care about what others think.

Many articles list powerful bald celebrities. They often cite Bruce Willis, Vin Diesel, Michael Jordan and Andre Agassi. However, the confidence that these individuals display most likely stems from being good at something they are passionate about. And this in turn is associated with a positive perception of their baldness.


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