View Full Version : Study link broader CEO faces with better financial performance

11-09-11, 09:23
I would like to discuss a couple of studies published in July (http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/early/2011/06/29/rspb.2011.1193.abstract), then featuring in two articles in LiveScience (http://www.livescience.com/15798-ceo-face-shape-performance.html) (and here (http://www.livescience.com/14909-wide-faces-predict-unethical-behavior.html)), commented by Dienekes (http://dienekes.blogspot.com/2011/08/broad-faced-behavioral-correlates-rise.html) 2 weeks ago and republished yesterday in the Time (http://moneyland.time.com/2011/09/08/do-fat-ceo-faces-equal-fat-profits/?iid=pf-main-feature).

Across two studies, we demonstrate that men with wider faces (relative to facial height) are more likely to explicitly deceive their counterparts in a negotiation, and are more willing to cheat in order to increase their financial gain. Importantly, we provide evidence that the link between facial metrics and unethical behaviour is mediated by a psychological sense of power.

The shape of a CEO's face can predict his company's financial performance, according to a new study in which researchers analyzed photos of 55 male chief executive officers of Fortune 500 businesses.
Other research has shown men with wider faces are more likely than those with narrow faces to behave unethically. In a previous study using a computer game, researchers found broad-faced men were less trustworthy than other men.

For the last few years, a number of studies have been published showing that greater facial width-to-height ratio (WHR) is associated with more aggressive behavior in men. Hockey players with wider faces spend more time in the penalty box. And men with higher facial width often feel more powerful.

Firstly, I wonder if this study works across racial and cultural groups or not ? The Japanese, like other Mongoloid people, tend to have wider faces than Caucasian people. But who would argue than your average Japanese man is more aggressive and untrustworthy or a more charismatic business leader than their European or Middle Eastern counterparts ? Actually it seems to opposite to me on all the line, and I have worked four years in Japan. Japanese people are among the most peaceful (now, times change), shy and honest people on Earth.

Or is it possible that wider-faced Japanese are or appear more aggressive and deceitful than long-faced Japanese ? Whether they are or not, I am convinced that one's racial group (which strongly influences facial features) and the culture and education of an individual (key factors in personality and behaviour) are more important than facial width in global comparisons.

A good example of long-faced individual is Osama bin Laden, though he surely isn't the archetype of the peaceful and trustworthy individual. Arabs are generally long and narrow faced, but are reputedly shrewd negotiators and rather aggressive people. Scandinavians are also long and narrow faced, but have a quite different character and culture.

But isn't it all a matter of perception rather than actual behaviour ? I noticed that most of the French newscasters and TV show hosts have narrow faces (examples (http://lci.tf1.fr/redaction-lci/tous-les-journalistes/presentateurs/)from LCI). If the study is right, they might have got their jobs because of their more trustworthy looks. The problem is that perception and reality often don't match.

Dozens of other publications beside Time and LiveScience reposted that study. What surprises me is how people from major websites like these fail to look at the study critically, as if they were incapable of independent thinking, and just agree with all the information they get as long as it is "scientific" (regardless of the fact that scientific studies contradict each others all the time). I feel like I am living in a world where most people and most media follow sheepishly the mainstream and believe blindly everything that comes along, without trying to reflect by themselves and analyse the information they receive.

11-09-11, 12:41
Low self-esteem and insecurity is often expressed as a need for affirmation. Achievement-driven individuals often appear more aggressive and emotionally distant. These factors relate to 'perceived efficacy' or simply put 'adequacy'. Society generally perceive aggression as overt hostility however most aggression is expressed in a passive manner, is silent and calculated.

Facial breadth also increases the more overweight one becomes. Weight can impact significantly on feelings of self-worth and this may lead to a degree of social avoidance and isolation. A decrease in social interaction over time should negatively effect social skills and the ability to express anger in a non-aggressive and healthy manner. Moving away from scientific studies for a second, my trip to the Mall yesterday brought me in contact with many broader-faced individuals. Most of them appeared overweight!

Most importantly, the major difference between Western and Japanese society is the problem of alcohol abuse. This is the no.1 factor in all aggressive altercations and domestic violence cases in Western Europe and the USA. Similar problems exist in Australia, Canada and South Africa. Alcohol abuse causes swelling and water-retention in the face. Alcohol abuse is linked to inactivity and diabetes. All of these factors increase the likelihood of unwanted weight-gain which will inherently effect facial breadth.

What does this have to do with increased financial performance you ask? Most company CEO's that are overweight, don't do enough exercise, they drink too much and they are achievement-driven individuals who for the most part suffer from heart-disease and hypertension.