Beware a man with a wide face

Published Sep 20, 2013


London - They have previously been accused of being aggressive, untrustworthy and deceitful, but now wide-faced men have also been blamed for selfishness in other people.

New research by the University of California, Riverside, has revealed that when people interact with men with wider faces they are more prone to selfishness and their selfish behaviour elicits selfish behaviour in others.

“This clearly shows that this behaviour is also socially driven, not just biologically driven,” said Professor Michael Haselhuhn, an assistant professor of management at UC Riverside's School of Business Administration.

To conduct the research, Professor Haselhuhn and his team carried out four studies each involving between 131 and 207 people.

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 behaviour based on a person’s fWHR.

In the final study, they showed that the partners' behaviour, based on a person’s fWHR, leads the person to act in ways consistent with the partners' expectations.

This shows a link between men's fWHR and behaviour, which otherwise may be attributed to biological factors, but is also a function of social responses to men's facial structure.

However, the researchers acknowledged that it is not clear exactly why face shape influences personality.

Previous research by Professor Haselhuhn and his colleague Elaine Wong also revealed that CEOs with wider faces are more likely to lead financially successful firms than CEOs with narrow faces.

The study, led by Professor Wong, analysed photos of 55 male CEOs of Fortune 500 businesses.

Researchers compared facial ratios with information about the companies' financial performances and letters to shareholders.

The result was that those with higher width-to-height ratios tended to lead the higher-performing companies.

“In our sample, the CEOs with the higher facial ratios actually achieved significantly greater firm financial performance than CEOS with the lower facial ratios,” Ms Wong said.

Ms Wong said CEOs with higher facial width, relative to height, in the study sample included Herb Kelleher, former CEO of Southwest Airlines, and Jeff Immelt, CEO of General Electric.

Those with lower than average facial width relative to height include former CEO of Lehman Brothers Dick Fuld and former AT&T CEO Bob Allen. - Daily Mail

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