Bald White Men Seen as Less Attractive, but No Difference for Black Men

Bald white men were rated as being less attractive than their counterparts with hair while also scoring lower on other measures of desirability in a psychological study.

Intriguingly, the same study also found that bald Black men were deemed to be no less attractive than those with hair.

The study, which was published in the journal, involved two experiments.

T. Joel Wade, the lead author of the study from Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, told Newsweek: "We decided to conduct the study because there was a dearth of research examining perceptions of men's cranial hair that included Black men, and a dearth of research that examined this from a biological (evolutionary theory) perspective."

In the first experiment, which involved 70 mostly white students—37 men and 33 women—from a private university in the northeastern United States, researchers showed participants one of two possible descriptions of a man (Black or white) with one of two photographs (with hair or bald.) The same white and Black man was used in the bald and non-bald photos.

The descriptions contained information about the individuals, such as where they lived and what they did in their spare time.

Then, participants were asked to rate the individual on measures of attractiveness, fitness and socially desirable personality traits.

The results of this experiment revealed a "significant interaction" of race and amount of hair, the authors wrote in the study.

White men who had hair were rated higher than white men without hair on perceived personality traits and attractiveness, while the amount of hair did not make any difference for Black men.

For example, the results showed that white men with hair were seen as more attractive and enthusiastic than white men without, while the amount of hair didn't matter for ratings of Black men's attractiveness and enthusiasm.

In the second experiment, researchers sought to determine whether the amount of hair and race influenced women's evaluations of men's attractiveness, perceived personality and perceived career success.

This experiment involved 50 mostly white women between the ages of 19 and 21 from a private university in the northeastern U.S. The researchers used the same procedure from the previous experiment and they observed similar results.

The results of the study with regards to white men are consistent with prior research showing that those with hair are perceived more positively, the authors said.

The fact that the amount of hair did not matter for evaluations of Black men's attractiveness and personality could be explained by the fact that other factors carry more weight than hair in these judgments of Black men.

Another possibility is that hair loss in Black and white men is perceived differently. Black men do not experience hair loss at the same time, with the same progression, or in similar numbers to white men, which could have an impact on people's perceptions, according to the authors.

Maryanne Fisher, co-author of the study from St. Mary's University in Halifax, Canada, said, according to MailOnline: "It is a little bit worrying how white men are perceived when they lose their hair."

"Being bald affects people's view of everything from their career success to their attractiveness and personality. But just because baldness can attract this unconscious view of men doesn't mean their other qualities don't matter—and if they are wonderful in other ways, that is very important."

While the amount of hair had no effect on the perceived attractiveness of Black men, another intriguing finding of the study was that bald Black men are actually perceived as being more successful in their careers than Black men with hair.

In the study, the researchers wrote that one possible explanation for this is the large proportion of Black male athletes and entertainers with large incomes who have shaved heads.

This phenomenon could influence the perceptions of Black men with baldness or shaved heads, the authors said.

"The amount of cranial hair a man has has differential effects on White and Black men's perceived attractiveness, and perceived life success," Wade said.

"This is consistent with the research that shows that the amount of hair one has can indicate one's health status, and one's health status affects judgments of one's attractiveness, fitness, and personality which lead to advantages in numerous areas of one's life (employment, salary, mate acquisition, offspring development, etc.)

Update 10/27/21, 12:16 p.m. ET: This article was updated to include comments from T. Joel Wade.

A bald white man
Stock image showing a bald man. A study has found that bald white men are perceived as being less attractive than other white men with hair. iStock