Research performed by Albert E. Mannes at the University of Pennsylvania indicates that women see bald men as stronger, more intelligent, more powerful, and even taller than guys with full heads of hair.
In the study, 59 women were shown multiple photos of men, then asked an extensive set of questions. Men who were completely bald scored well; amazingly, they were even seen as taller than they actually were, despite the fact that subjects only saw them in photographs.
However, men who were only partially bald didn’t enjoy the same benefits. That means that if you have a receding hairline, you’re out of luck.
It’s important to note that this is just a perception, not a scientific reality.
There’s also something to be said for testosterone production in bald men; some types of baldness occur when men have elevated levels of the hormone. However, the combination of testosterone and hair loss is extremely complex, and a bigger factor in determining individual cases of hair loss is genetics. Bald men often have hair follicles that are genetically more sensitive to the presence of testosterone.
As hormone levels change as men age, they may begin losing their hair. As such, people might associate baldness with aging, and therefore, wisdom and intelligence. This is an inaccurate assumption on a case-by-case basis, but it still has some sort of biological basis.
There are plenty of other theories. Women may also simply think favorably of men who take the action of shaving their heads, simply because it shows that the man in question cares about his appearance.
Many athletes shave their heads in order to gain a competitive advantage (less hair means less resistance for runners and swimmers, for instance, and a bald head may be more comfortable for baseball and basketball players). That might influence cultural perceptions, leading women to think of baldness as a sign of power.
Again, we’re not speaking to the accuracy of those assumptions, but rather pointing out that they’re relatively common. Shaving your head won’t make you smaller or taller—but it might make you appear that way.
Alas, there are a few problems with the study.
For starters, 59 participants isn’t exactly a massive sample size, so it’s possible that the researchers simply found an isolated pocket of women who love bald heads. There’s also no credence to the claims that baldness influences intelligence, although as we mentioned, it does carry indications regarding testosterone production.
There’s one more potentially major issue: a conflict of interest. Mannes, the head researcher behind the study, is bald himself.
But we’re not trying to take anything away from the bald guys reading this article. For now, enjoy your victory; some women apparently find you stronger and more intelligent. Just don’t expect those perceptions to translate to real-world advantages.