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New research has suggested that men with wider faces are more likely to make other people act selfishly, according to a series of studies published in the journal PLOS ONE.
Researchers from the University of California, Riverside, say that their findings build on two previous studies, which showed that men with wider faces tend to lead more financially successful firms, and that wider-faced men are more likely to lie and cheat.
For this most recent paper, the researchers conducted a series of four studies. The studies involved between 131 and 201 participants in each one.
For the first study, the researchers found a link between facial width-to-height ratio (fWHR) and general self-interest.
The men were asked to carry out a "resource allocation task," by imagining that they will be making economic choices affecting both them and an anonymous partner, and that the partner would be making the same choices for themselves.
Results showed that men with higher fWHRs behaved more selfishly when dividing resources between themselves and the anonymous partner.
"Specifically, men with greater facial ratios were less likely to be characterized by prosocial preferences, and more likely to choose allocations that maximized their own self-interest," the study authors explain.
"Indeed, supplementary analyses suggested that men with greater fWHRs sought to secure as many resources as possible for themselves as opposed to competitively maximizing the difference between their own allocation and that of their counterpart."
In two subsequent studies, the same resource allocation task was conducted, but the researchers examined the same decisions from the view of the partners. Results showed that partners changed their behavior based on a target's fWHR.
In detail, when a partner imagined they were dividing their resources with a counterpart who had a relatively high fWHR, they anticipated selfish behavior from them and therefore acted more selfishly themselves.
In the final study, participants completed the same task again, but they were told of their partner's decision before making a decision themselves.
This showed that the partner's behavior, dependent on whether the target had a high or low fWHR, led the target to act in ways that were consistent with the partner's expectations of them.
Overall, the study authors say their findings show that individuals behave more selfishly when interacting with men with wider faces. Additionally, this selfish behavior triggers selfish behavior in others.
They note that this shows the behavior is socially driven, not just biologically driven:
"Recent research has highlighted the importance of men's fWHR as a social cue and has focused extensively on potential biological and evolutionary theoretical underpinnings of these relationships.
The current article illustrates how social processes, in addition to possible biological differences, can elicit different patterns of behavior as a function of men's facial ratios."
Medical News Today recently reported on a study suggesting that men lack self esteem when a spouse or partner is successful.
Written by Honor Whiteman
Copyright: Medical News Today
Not to be reproduced without the permission of Medical News Today.
Self-Fulfilling Prophecies as a Link between Men’s Facial Width-to-Height Ratio and Behavior, published in PLOS ONE, 16 September 2013.
Visit our Psychology / Psychiatry category page for the latest news on this subject.
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Whiteman, Honor. "Wide-faced men trigger selfishness in others." Medical News Today. MediLexicon, Intl., 22 Sep. 2013. Web.
10 Dec. 2013. <http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/266424>
Whiteman, H. (2013, September 22). "Wide-faced men trigger selfishness in others." Medical News Today. Retrieved from
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