People with masculine characteristics are seen as better at their work than people with a feminine appearance
A square jaw, strong eyebrows, thin lips and a wider nose are seen as signs of talent and competence, a new study has found.
The characteristics, associated with elevated levels of the male hormone testosterone, are seen as assertive and markers of virility that indicate professional prowess.
The public was asked to judge images on the basis of a set of criteria, whereby men scored higher on competence than women.
Experts say their research points to the prejudices that women have ingrained in society that women encounter every day.
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Elevated levels of testosterone – the male hormone – creates a square jaw, strong eyebrows, thin lips and a wider nose. All these functions are seen as assertive and markers of virility
First author Dr. DongWon Oh, from Princeton University, said: “Our research sheds light on the harmful bias in the way we perceive others.
“We judge male people as competent – a judgment that can influence our leadership choices.”
High levels of testosterone lead to the ultra-masculine appearance of George Clooney or Idris Elba, while less of the hormone produces the softer characteristics of Leonardo DiCaprio or Brad Pitt.
Elevated testosterone levels were found to be directly correlated with perceived competence in men.
However, the same trait among women created the opinion that they were “inefficient.”
Dr. Oh said this is important because it affects who we choose to lead us and how we see them.
Previous studies have shown, for example, that people with rough jaw lines more often become high-ranking politicians or heads of large companies.
But Dr. Oh said: ‘Problematic, how competent someone is, does not guarantee their actual competence.
“Needless to say, these gender prejudices pose a threat to social justice – creating unfair environments for everyone.”
Members of the general public were asked to rate images of people based on competence and found that people rated someone more competent if they were male and less competent than female
WHAT IS TESTOSTERONE?
Testosterone is the male sex hormone and is usually made in the testicles, but also in the adrenal glands that are close to the kidneys.
It ensures that the voice becomes deeper, body hair grows and the genitals grow larger during puberty.
In addition to influencing libido and sperm production, it also plays a role in developing strong bones and muscles, and how the body distributes fat.
Women also create small amounts of the hormone in the ovaries and adrenal glands, and it affects their fertility and bones and muscles.
Too high or too low testosterone levels can cause various problems.
Low testosterone in men can cause erection problems, low sex drive, infertility, weakened muscles and bones, fat accumulation and hair loss.
However, too much testosterone can cause puberty in boys under the age of nine, is linked to aggression, and may increase the risk of prostate problems, including cancer.
Male testosterone levels are usually highest when he is about 20 years old and naturally decrease with age.
Source: Medical News Today
Dr. Oh and colleagues assessed the ‘visual ingredients’ that influence how people view someone else’s talent level in appearance alone.
The participants in a study were asked to assess different faces on how competent they thought the person was based solely on appearance.
By collecting and splitting all data, they could then identify the characteristics that were most associated with competence.
They then built a computer model with which they could digitally change faces based on these specific guidelines.
One experiment with 33 participants found that faces designed to look more efficient were assessed as such – and more attractive.
Dr. Oh, from Princeton University in New Jersey, said: “Using the computational methods we have developed to visualize stereotypes of appearance, we can literally remove the attractiveness of skilled looking faces.
“We can then test whether ‘competent’ faces still seem competent and inspect which visual properties other than attractiveness drive the competence impressions.”
Scientists have discovered that first impressions can have a major impact on how we see someone as male faces as more competent. Researchers say the study also emphasizes the prejudices that women have ingrained in society that women encounter every day
High levels of testosterone lead to the ultra-masculine appearance of George Clooney or Idris Elba (photo) and less produces the softer appearance of Leonardo DiCaprio or Brad Pitt
Another online test revealed a clear gender bias. When asked to identify the gender of faces, the participants rated more competent-looking faces as male.
Finally, the researchers manipulated ‘photo-realistic’ images of male and female faces, so that they varied masculinity and 250 participants could assess their competence online.
Again, the data suggested a gender bias in first impressions. As male faces became more masculine, so did their perceived competence.
For female faces this relationship only lasted to a point – after which more male female faces were actually perceived as less competent.
Dr. Oh and colleagues hope to expand the research published in Psychological Science by investigating the origin of this gender bias and investigating how this can be combated.
They also investigate whether there are systematic differences in the impressions we have of male and female faces.