In another article we’ve talked about how your appearance can influence your career with a focus on the way we dress. We also mentioned the top of your head and for good reason! Like your clothes, your hair can also contribute, or not, to your career success. Quite apart from the obvious aspect of your hair being part of the overall picture you present to others, hair can also be associated with beauty. The 1972 study by Dion, Berscheid and Walster, amongst others, mentions facial attractiveness and its importance in influencing how we’re seen by others. Other reports like these have studied how physical attractiveness and appearance play a role in the work place:
- AC Little: Evolution, appearance, and occupational success – NCBI (2012)
- MI Subhani: Impact of Physical Attractiveness on Selection and Recruitment Process (2012)
Your Hair Is Part Of Your Facial Attractiveness
Hair frames your face so how you wear your hair, how you look after it, how well groomed it is, and even whether or not you have any, all contribute to, or detract from, your facial attractiveness. Which in turn, we’ve discovered, affects how people relate to you. Hair is also one of the first things people notice because your head is where they look when they’re talking to you.* For importance hair ranks right up there alongside your eyes, your smile and even your skin health.
That Famous Hair Part Theory
It’s also been revealed that how you part your hair, what type of hair you have and what colour it is tend to be associated with certain character traits. The Hair Part Theory suggests that if you part your hair on the left you’re more likely to be considered intelligent, serious and masculine. If you part it on the right, you’re probably sending out feminine and artistic vibes. If you compromise with a centre parting, it conveys balance, wisdom and dependability. Don’t believe it? Think of all the most masculinely powerful people you know. Chances are most of them part their hair on the left! To further illustrate the point, consider modern portrayals of everyone’s favourite super hero Superman. When donning his spandex and cape our hero has a very predominant left hand side parting. His alter ego on the other hand….! Yes, Clark Kent is generally portrayed with a right parting!
The basis for this theory is that we tend to (subconsciously) connect hair part locations with the dominant functions of our cranial hemispheres**. The left hemisphere of our brain controls logical functioning. It’s rational, analytical, focussed, unemotional, and wants to turn things into certainties. These are traditionally masculine associated characteristics.***
The right hemisphere is more about spatial awareness. This is the side of our brain that allows us to be empathetic, creative, artistic, intuitive and more engaged with our surroundings, which are seen as more feminine attributes.***
Therefore if you want to be considered a serious, go-getting professional with a sharp, analytical brain you’re better off with a left part. Of course you actually need enough hair to have a clearly defined part for this to work! If you don’t have very much on top, it’s not nearly as effective.
The Type Of Hair You Have Also Appears To Matter
If you were blessed with a bunch of Shirley Temple like curls you’re probably more likely to be seen as unprofessional, prone to taking the odd risk and even a bit wild! Straight hair on the other hand, especially short straight hair. seemingly conveys an impression of smart professionalism, attention to detail and intelligence.** Once again though, if you don’t have much hair at all it’s very hard to convey any type of clear cut impression about yourself at all.
As Does The Colour Of Your Hair
Dumb blonde / blond jokes aside, it’s still a fact that naturally fair haired people are invariably pegged as being less than competent and somewhat needy.** Red heads are believed to be temperamental**; if you’re a horse person you’ll have heard the saying ‘hell hath no fury like a chestnut mare (ie a red haired equine female)’! Fortunately for the 90% of us with brunette hair, this colour is deemed to be the most desirable colour of the lot.**
Male Perceptions About Their Hair
In a survey they dubbed the hair census Dove Men+Care found that of the 2000 American men they surveyed about their hair, most (80%) believe their hair and how it looks is important to their professional identity. They felt having a good head of healthy hair contributed positively to their professional look, which in turn boosted their feelings of professionalism and hence their productivity. It also contributed to their self-confidence. Their beliefs are backed up science and by studies like the one conducted by researchers at Johns Hopkins University.
Johns Hopkins University Study – Male Hair Linked To Perceptions Of Success
The Johns Hopkins University Study got people to assess photos of men taken before and after a hair transplant. Invariably the men were rated as being more successful, attractive and approachable after their hair transplant. When these perceptions are applied to the real world, we can see how easily men with a full head of healthy well-groomed hair are viewed more favourably than those with a degree of hair loss happening. And why so many with hair loss want a full head of hair.
In another study done by the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School which looked at how people perceived bald men, it was found that men who opted to completely shave their heads were also seen to be more attractive, powerful and dominant that those with hair loss. Great news for executives and those in powerful positions but when it comes to attractiveness, the study found that men with a full head of hair still outrank the chrome domes.
So why does having a healthy head of hair apparently matter so much?
Our hair is part of our non-verbal communication system. Whether we realise it or not, it conveys messages about us and this is equally as true for both genders. From where you put your part to what type of hair you have, and what colour it is, your hair is silently speaking on your behalf**. If you want to remain in control of those messages, maintain control of your hair!
The Messages Your Hair Sends
Clean, shining, healthy, well-groomed hair says you take pride in yourself and your appearance. It says you’re organised enough to have the time to look after it. By association people will assume that you probably also take pride in your work and that you’re a generally organised, professional and capable person who gets things done. Haphazard, unkempt hair likewise speaks volumes, albeit not in a good way. If you’re too lazy to look after your hair, or at least make it presentable, then what are your work ethics like? It’s all these little things that contribute to how others see you. Polished professional or homeless hobo…. That is the question.
And, just as your clothes can influence how you feel about yourself, which in turn influences your performance, so too does your hair. When you know your hair looks good, when you know it looks professional and well maintained, you likewise feel good about yourself and a lot more capable. That translates to better work place performance and when you perform well in your job, you stand a far better chance of getting further up the ladder of success.
The beauty of hair too is that it’s changeable so you can change the unspoken messages you want to convey. For a serious meeting keep it serious. Short (a sign of confidence and maturity**) and straight, a conventional colour or better still brunette, and conventional style with a left side parting will tell everyone you’re deadly serious. And a smart, professional person! However, you need hair to do this! Without hair you’re lacking a very powerful tool in your non-verbal communication arsenal!