Hair loss can be a challenging life change that affects countless men around the globe. Men often invest significant time and money trying to mitigate this unavoidable, natural process for fear of the social consequences it might bring. However, it appears attitudes are shifting, and the perception of being bald isn’t as bad as it used to be. A recent meta-analysis by Albert E. Mannes, Professor of Psychological and Personality Science at the University of Pensylvania, shows just how significant this shift is. One study it investigates was conducted with mostly female participants and showed that bald men are viewed as manly, dominant, fit, and a few inches taller. Stars with shaved heads such as Jason Statham, Bruce Willis, and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson are perceived as masculine, and this study confirms that these views have been transferred to bald men in general. Though many might think they see bald men as inferior, this meta-analysis shows they are instead often viewed as socially dominant.
That said, there is still a downside – bald men are perceived as four years older on average, and men with shaved heads were deemed comparatively less attractive. Research suggests that men should stop wasting billions of dollars trying to preserve their hair. Alternatively, they should bite the bullet and shave their head. Shaving one’s head willingly can also prevent the psychological effects associated with hair loss and mark a significant, positive shift in his or her identity and how they project it. As Anthony Synott describes those who shave their heads in his study, Shame and Glory: A Sociology of Hair,
“They reject an extremely powerful and popular symbol of life
and youth and elect a baldness which is an equally powerful
symbol of age and death. Perhaps this choice expresses a
transcendence of conventional views of masculinity and life
and thus these individuals become symbolically more alive
and more virile.”
In another study analyzed by the meta-analysis, researchers copied photos of four men with medium-length hair, and those copies were digitally altered to make the men bald. These eight photos were distributed through surveys wherein the men were to be ranked by dominance, confidence, norm-violation, masculinity, and attractiveness. Respondents perceived men who had their hair digitally removed in a photograph as more dominant than the same men with hair, “and this effect was due to a large
degree by their higher perceived confidence and masculinity.”
This meta-analysis reveals just how misleading the perceived stigma on baldness is. Many are afraid of social consequences, but the science shows that a bald head can be an incredible tool in lifting your perceived confidence and stature.