Like the Biblical Samson, who lost his power after his hair was cut off by Delilah — hair makes the man, a recent survey of U.S. men's hair habits found.
Science of Work

The ‘Samson effect’ is real: Men look more successful with hair, study finds

Like the Biblical Samson, who lost his power after his hair was cut off by Delilah — hair makes the man, a recent survey of U.S. men’s hair habits found.

Dove Men+Care surveyed 2,000 men across America and found that the majority of them tie their work identities to their hair follicles.

In the hair census, 8 in 10 men said that their hair made them look professional, the look of it was important, and that their hair helps them feel confident. Perhaps the majority of these men are preoccupied with their hair because they recognize what science has found: that societies judge men on how much hair they have on their heads.

Studies: Hair makes the difference in people seeing men as successful

A study in JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery found that a few more hair follicles can make all the difference between people seeing you as a success or a lost cause. The Johns Hopkins University researchers recruited participants to compare photos of men before and after they got a hair transplant. Although they were looking at the same men, participants rated men after they got their hair transplants as more attractive, approachable, and successful.

No wonder then that hair transplants were among the most popular cosmetic procedure men are seeking to get done, with 11,000 procedures done in 2014.

But, when it comes to being bald, all-in is best

If you’re balding, research suggests embracing your chrome dome fully if you want to increase your social standing. A study in Social Psychological and Personality Science journal found that American men who make the choice to forego their thinning locks and proactively shave what’s left of their hair are seen as more dominant than men who are only partially bald.

When researchers showed participants photos of men with some hair and the same men with digitally shorn heads, the virtually shaved men were viewed as nearly an inch taller, almost four years older, and 13% stronger than their real-life selves. Unfortunately, the bald-headed versions of the men were still rated as less attractive than men with a full head of hair.

Why are bald men seen as more powerful and dominant? The researchers theorize that in a society that prizes the vitality of hair, seeing someone purposefully give that up is also a signal of one’s status: “when people witness someone violate standards of acceptable or conventional behavior, they may infer the person is powerful.”

Being seen as dominant helps you in the boardroom, which is why being bald may help you close deals. Citing previous research that links dominance to better outcome in negotiations, the researchers predict that “men with shaved heads will fare better economically in negotiations.”

When in doubt, shave it off

Although your attractiveness levels may decrease, the research shows that making the choice to go bald can increase your leadership potential.

“Instead of spending billions each year trying to reverse or cure their hair loss, the counterintuitive prescription of this research to men experiencing male pattern baldness is to shave their heads,” the researchers advise.

So if you’re a man with a receding hairline, don’t despair — take control of your destiny and head to your barber. As successful (and balding) comedian Larry David once proclaimed, “Anyone can be confident with a full head of hair. But a confident bald man – there’s your diamond in the rough.”