Looking like a leader-facial shape predicts perceived height and leadership ability

Re, Daniel E. and Hunter, David W. and Coetzee, Vinet and Tiddeman, Bernard P. and Xiao, Dengke and DeBruine, Lisa M. and Jones, Benedict C. and Perrett, David I. (2013) Looking like a leader-facial shape predicts perceived height and leadership ability. PLoS ONE, 8 (12). e80957. ISSN 1932-6203 (https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0080957)

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Judgments of leadership ability from face images predict the outcomes of actual political elections and are correlated with leadership success in the corporate world. The specific facial cues that people use to judge leadership remain unclear, however. Physical height is also associated with political and organizational success, raising the possibility that facial cues of height contribute to leadership perceptions. Consequently, we assessed whether cues to height exist in the face and, if so, whether they are associated with perception of leadership ability. We found that facial cues to perceived height had a strong relationship with perceived leadership ability. Furthermore, when allowed to manually manipulate faces, participants increased facial cues associated with perceived height in order to maximize leadership perception. A morphometric analysis of face shape revealed that structural facial masculinity was not responsible for the relationship between perceived height and perceived leadership ability. Given the prominence of facial appearance in making social judgments, facial cues to perceived height may have a significant influence on leadership selection.