The Face of a CEO

We’ve blogged before about the influence that beauty can have on earnings and career choices. But what about the shape of a face? A new paper in the British Journal of Psychology looks at the faces of U.K. executives. Researchers Shuaa Alrajih and Jamie Ward found that CEOs have greater than average facial width-to-height ratios. The abstract:

The relative proportion of the internal features of a face (the facial width-to-height ratio, FWH) has been shown to be related to individual differences in behavior in males, specifically competitiveness and aggressiveness. In this study, we show that the Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of the leading UK businesses have greater FWHs than age- and sex-matched controls. We demonstrate that perceivers, naive as to the nature of the stimuli, rate the faces of CEOs as higher in dominance or success, and that ratings of dominance or success are themselves correlated with the FWH ratio. We find no association with other inferred traits such as trustworthiness, attraction or aggression. The latter is surprising given previous research demonstrating a link between FWH and ratings of aggression. We speculate that the core association may be between FWH and drive for dominance or power, but this can be interpreted as aggression only in particular circumstances (e.g., when the stimuli are comprised of faces of young, as opposed to middle-aged, men).

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  1. somar says:

    Its other-way around in Republic of Elbonia.
    http://search.dilbert.com/comic/Ceo

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  2. Mike says:

    They controlled for age and sex, but did they control for weight? There are some hefty CEOs out there.

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  3. Joe in GA says:

    Could this not be related to hormone levels? It is noted that athletes who use steroids show a noticeable increase in head size. The same hormones that make you more competitive and aggressive make your head bigger?

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  4. James says:

    You mean all those 19th century phrenologists were right after all?

    So now parents everywhere can start applying retrophrenology. Want your kid to grow up to be a CEO? Forget about saving for education, just clamp his head in a vise :-)

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    • CEO says:

      James, you sound real mean spirited. If my head were clamped I would not be the CEO (i.e., real center for equal educational opportunity) that I am. AS far the past, some things are almost, but not completely impossible to forget or to get past. I had a dream a few weeks back. Went to the Tony’s and found my dad waiting for me at the bottom of a long winding staircase. Freud had alot to say about aggression and particularly about the aggressive aspect of relationships. So the way I look at it is, 1000′s of years of history and culture to get past.
      No way I can do it all by myself. Never intended it that way. But I will say, that I am not the one to have made my situation difficult to overcome and almost impossible to get past. parents, teachers, supposed friends and colleagues all contributed. But as far as mapping, I created my own when I finally figured out what it would take to achieve what I set out to accomplish and that no one could take it away or hide the truth from me as others tried to take it away or hide it from women and from some children in the past. Am lucky to have an understanding husband and daughter. When I told them of my latest possible (though not certain) finding, neither batted an eye. The truth does not always hurt. Indeed, sometimes, it helps to understand.

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      • James says:

        I’m sorry if you misunderstood my comment, which was supposed to be humor. But I suppose you don’t read Terry Pratchett?

        “Freud had alot to say…”

        Almost all of it wrong. The parts that were right, were right pretty much by accident, on the stopped clock principle.

        I confess I don’t understand your explanation of your dreams (who’s Tony, for one?), but when you write of getting past things, I wonder if you have really understood the original article, which (as far as I understand it) seems to be saying that it’s pointless to strive or work to get past things, because your success as a CEO is determined by the shape of your head.

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  5. Brian says:

    That would explain Dilbert’s office.

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  6. Eric M. Jones says:

    Am I alone in understanding that “…comprised of…” is grammatically incorrect? If you use the phrase on Wikipedia it will be corrected to “composed of…”.

    Literally “comprised” means “embraced”. “The zoo comprised zebras, lions and monkeys.” Using “comprised of” instead of “composed of” is an errant attempt by someone trying to fancify her grammar.

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