Donkey’s years ago when I first started out in the world of business I used to hear the phrase "their face does/doesn’t fit" as a means of someone being recruited or promoted. Now being very young at the time, as opposed to the mere slip of a girl I am now, I used to wonder what they were on about.
Well now I may have my answer. According to the Economist what the boss looks like determines how he performs. Dr Ambady and colleagues have shown that even a still photograph can convey a lot of information about competence.
"…..Dr Ambady and Mr Rule showed 100 undergraduates the faces of the chief executives of the top 25 and the bottom 25 companies in the Fortune 1,000 list. Half the students were asked how good they thought the person they were looking at would be at leading a company and half were asked to rate five personality traits on the basis of the photograph. These traits were competence, dominance, likeability, facial maturity and trustworthiness.
By a useful (though hardly unexpected) coincidence, all the businessmen were male and all were white, so there were no confounding variables of race or sex. The study even controlled for age, the emotional expression in the photos and the physical attractiveness of the individuals by obtaining separate ratings of these from other students and using statistical techniques to remove their effects….
…And Dr Ambady and Mr Rule were surprised by just how accurate the students’ observations were. The results of their study, which are about to be published in Psychological Science, show that both the students’ assessments of the leadership potential of the bosses and their ratings for the traits of competence, dominance and facial maturity were significantly related to a company’s profits…."
For the full article in the Economist click here
For those who subscribe a short report on this work of Dr Ambady is available in Volume 19, issue 2 of the Psychological Science journal.