Education  November 28, 2014

Study may put new face on hiring process

Imagine this conversation in a corporation’s boardroom:

CEO: “What do we do? Smith and Jones are equally qualified to be our new general manager. Which one do we hire?”

HR DIRECTOR: “I’d hire Jones if I were you. He’s a fathead.”

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CEO: “Wait … what?”

That may sound a bit loopy – but not to a researcher at the University of Colorado Boulder.

Keith Welker believes he has evidence to indicate that facial structure correlates to greater success among chief executives.

Welker, a post-doctoral researcher in CU’s Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, led a team of scientists from universities in Michigan and Ontario who studied the facial width-to-height ratio (FWHR) – the distance between the cheekbones divided by the distance between the mid-brow and the upper lip – of about 1,000 soccer players from 32 nations who competed in the 2010 World Cup.

The results, published in the journal Adaptive Human Behavior and Physiology, showed that if midfielders, who play both offense and defense, and forwards, who lead the offense, had higher FWHRs, they were more likely to be more aggressive, which translated into committing more fouls. However, forwards with higher FWHRs also were more likely to score goals or make assists.

Past studies have shown that a high FWHR is associated with more aggressive behavior, with both positive and negative results. For example, high FWHR correlates with greater antisocial and unethical behavior, but it also correlates with greater success among CEOs and achievement drive among U.S. presidents.

Scientists have several ideas about how FWHR might be associated with aggression. One possibility is that it’s related to testosterone exposure earlier in life. Testosterone during puberty can affect a variety of physical traits, including bone density, muscle growth and cranial shape, Welker said,

A separate report from the University of California found that men with wider faces get bigger bonuses when they ask for them but fare less well in business negotiations.

Researchers at Singapore Management University took it a step further, finding that women are drawn to men with broader faces for short-term relationships but not as prospective husbands.

Rich but alone. Sorry, fathead!

Imagine this conversation in a corporation’s boardroom:

CEO: “What do we do? Smith and Jones are equally qualified to be our new general manager. Which one do we hire?”

HR DIRECTOR: “I’d hire Jones if I were you. He’s a fathead.”

CEO: “Wait … what?”

That may sound a bit loopy – but not to a researcher at the University of Colorado Boulder.

Keith Welker believes he has evidence to indicate that facial structure correlates to greater success among chief executives.

Welker, a post-doctoral researcher in CU’s Department of Psychology and Neuroscience,…

Dallas Heltzell
With BizWest since 2012 and in Colorado since 1979, Dallas worked at the Longmont Times-Call, Colorado Springs Gazette, Denver Post and Public News Service. A Missouri native and Mizzou School of Journalism grad, Dallas started as a sports writer and outdoor columnist at the St. Charles (Mo.) Banner-News, then went to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch before fleeing the heat and humidity for the Rockies. He especially loves covering our mountain communities.
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