Social Impact of Hair: Exploring Views of Baldness & Attractiveness in Men

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Studies have shown losing one's hair can have emotional impacts for patients. Hair loss and or baldness can attribute to a patient’s feelings of social acceptance, and perceived attractiveness.

Interestingly enough research studies focusing on the evolutionary significance of male pattern baldness and facial hair suggested that baldness may signal social maturity and a non-threatening form of dominance associated with wisdom and nurturance. In contrast, facial hair was associated with perceived aggressive dominance. These findings indicate varying effects of hair on different areas of the face on social perception (Muscarella & Cunningham, 1996). There has also been a link to perceived attractiveness and social dominance. A study using computer-editing to compare perceptions of a bald and a non-bald version of the same individual found that the full-hair condition was rated significantly more dominant, dynamic, and masculine than the bald condition. However, there was no difference in attractiveness ratings between the two conditions (Butler, Pryor, & Grieder, 1998).

Although, research on facial hair's impact on women's perceptions of men found that while beards can affect judgments of socio-sexual attributes, they don't consistently increase perceived attractiveness. However, heavy stubble was found to be more attractive, suggesting that an intermediate level of facial hair might be more appealing than full beards or clean-shaven faces (Dixson & Brooks, 2013).

Research focused on men's self-perception about hair loss and baldness found men who are more publicly self-conscious are more likely to believe that balding men are less attractive and less desirable romantic partners, and thus become more concerned about their own hair loss, indicating that hair loss can significantly affect self-esteem and social interactions (Franzoi, Anderson, & Frommelt, 1990).

These studies collectively indicate that while baldness may affect perceptions of social maturity and non-threatening dominance, it can also impact perceived attractiveness and masculine traits. However, the presence of facial hair might modify these perceptions, suggesting complex interactions between different forms of male hair growth and social perception.