Entries in Masculinity (2)


Bald Men Seen as More Masculine, Less Attractive?

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(PHILADELPHIA) -- Forget about the hair plugs -- new research suggests men with thinning hair would do better just shaving it all off.

A new study indicates men who choose to go bald by shaving their heads are perceived as being more masculine, even taller and physically stronger -- although less attractive than men with a full head of hair.

The study included three tests of people’s perceptions of men based on how much hair they had on their heads.  In each test, participants were asked to rate men with hair, shaved heads and naturally thinning hair on how dominant and attractive they appeared.

“The results were consistent across all three studies,” said Albert Mannes, a lecturer at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania who conducted the study.

The results might not be surprising for anybody who has ever seen an action movie: men who shave their heads are perceived as being more dominant and masculine.  Those men were also perceived as being on average one inch taller, and able to bench press 15 more pounds than other men.

They are also, however, seen as less attractive than their counterparts who have a thick head of hair.

Mannes said he has a number of theories as to why this might be the case.

One possibility is that shaved heads are associated with stereotypically masculine professions: the military, police, firefighting, and more recently, professional sports.

Another theory is that Hollywood has had an effect on society’s views of bald men -- as anybody who has seen Bruce Willis, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Vin Diesel or Jason Statham in one of their many action movie roles could attest.

“Take, for instance, Bryan Cranston on Breaking Bad.  He went from high school teacher to hardcore drug lord just by shaving his head,” Mannes said.

Yet another possibility is that men who shave their heads are going against the norm of a society that places so much value on beauty, of which hair is a large part.

“It takes a lot of confidence to go the route of baldness, so we think they must be really self-confident,” Mannes told ABC News.

He also points out this could be a largely American phenomenon, noting that in England, shaved heads are more closely associated with skinheads.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Masculinity: Guys Have to Earn Their Status

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- There are biological, as well as social, reasons why a man has to prove his manliness, and a woman does not.

A new effort to explain that difference between the genders concludes that the rights of passage for males at least partly explains why men are more aggressive than women.  Manhood, according to psychologists Jennifer K. Bosson and Joseph A. Vandello of the University of South Florida, is a "status that is elusive (it must be earned) and tenuous (it must be demonstrated repeatedly through actions.)"

The Florida researchers are building on the global research of anthropologist David D. Gilmore of the State University of New York at Stony Brook, who found that certain male traits are present in diverse cultures around the world.  A boy does not automatically become a man.  He must earn it against what Gilmore called "powerful odds."

That most likely has an evolutionary basis.  In the old days, before the Internet, males had to earn their status by protecting the hearth, proving they could be good material for mating, and even slaying an occasional beast.  But when he could no longer slay the beast, he would lose that status, showing that manhood is indeed tenuous.

Womanhood, according to Gilmore, is biological but manhood is a "cultural construct."

The need to slay the beast may be less important today, but the Florida researchers show that males still feel the need to prove their manhood, which is not likely to surprise anyone, regardless of gender.  But they take it a step further.  It may not be an altogether bad thing.

Bosson and Vandello describe a series of experiments in a study published in the journal Current Directions in Psychological Science showing that when a man feels his manhood is threatened he will likely become very aggressive.  But that aggressiveness might also relieve his anxiety.

Like so many studies in this field, all the participants are college students, and not necessarily representative of society as a whole.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio