A Face Fit for the Job

Posted on July 12, 2017

Whether be it a law firm or mafia mob, every organisation has a boss. The boss is usually a person who started from the bottom and worked their way to the top. But do some leaders rise more easily than others because of their facial appearance?

Dan Re and Nicholas Rule, psychologists from the University of Toronto, researched this question. Previous research had found that we tend to vote for politicians with more masculine faces in times of war, and more baby-faced politicians during periods of peace.

Re and Rule’s research on executives in law firms found that higher-ranking attorneys had higher ratings for power than those with rankings lower than them, based on their photographs alone. Interestingly, social skill had no relation to rank, even though lawyers are known to use their social and intellectual skills to win a case. Re and Rule suggests this is because social skills are seen as a common trait that attorneys have. Hence, differences in power is made through appearance instead.

What about organisations like the mafia, where physical strength is the norm? Re and Rule found that mafia members with higher ranks looked more socially skilful. In the mafia, everyone can throw a punch, but intelligence is needed to rise to the top.

Re and Rule point out that rising to the top in an organisation depends on what is valuable within the group. Hence, valued facial traits for leadership selection differ between organisations.


Category(s):Other, Workplace Issues

Source material from Psychology Today


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