The bare-faced truth about big fat liars
Steve Connor is the Science Editor of The Independent. He has won many awards for his journalism, including five-times winner of the prestigious British science writers’ award; the David Perlman Award of the American Geophysical Union; twice commended as specialist journalist of the year in the UK Press Awards; UK health journalist of the year and a special merit award of the European School of Oncology for his investigative journalism. He has a degree in zoology from the University of Oxford and has a special interest in genetics and medical science, human evolution and origins, climate change and the environment.
Wednesday 06 July 2011
Men with wide faces are more likely to lie and cheat than narrow-faced men but they seem to make better businessmen, according to a study that links facial features with a tendency to engage in unethical behaviour.
Scientists believe they have evidence to show that the width of a man's face relative to his facial height is an indicator of how powerful he feels and of his willingness to surreptitiously break social rules to achieve his goals.
The findings suggest that the width-to-height ratio of the face could be an ancient evolutionary signal of a man's aggressiveness when dealing with competitors, said Professor Michael Haselhuhn of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, who led the study.
"Men's facial width-to-height ratio is generally a positive signal, evolutionary speaking. Specifically, when men compete for resources with other men, relative facial width is a strong sign of aggressive, self-interested behaviour," Professor Haselhuhn said.
"Importantly, we found evidence that the link between men's facial ratio and their unethical behaviour is caused by a sense of power. Men with larger facial ratios feel more powerful, and this sense of power then leads them to act unethically," he said.
The studies involved testing a group of 192 business students to see how readily they were prepared to either lie or cheat in order to gain an advantage over a competitor. Men with wider faces were about three times more likely to lie and about nine times more likely to cheat compared to narrow-faced men, according to the study published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
"Our findings suggest that some men are simply predisposed to act unethically in order to achieve their goals. This has important practical implications, for example someone in the market for a new car may wish to peruse photos of salesmen online before visiting the dealership in person to increase the chances of finding an honest negotiator," Professor Haselhuhn said.
Further research involved examining the facial profiles of about 60 chief executives from the Fortune 500 companies. Those with wider faces were more likely to lead successful companies, suggesting that they are channelling their aggressive, unethical tendencies into something more constructive, he said.
"It's also important to recognise that men with larger facial ratios aren't all bad. The same feelings of power and aggression that spark unethical behaviour can be a net benefit if they are channelled correctly."
- 1 Universities aren't working us hard enough, say undergraduates
- 2 Lego letter from the 1970s still offers a powerful message to parents 40 years later
- 3 To help fuel their propaganda machine against the poor, our government has now decided to redefine the word 'welfare'
- 4 Woman opens professional cuddling shop – gets 10,000 customers in first week
- 5 Grayson Perry: London needs affordable housing because 'rich people don't create culture'
Heroin to be prescribed to Canadian addicts by doctors
Tower Bridge glass walkway 'smashed' by night-time visitor dropping bottle of beer
Charing Cross fire: Station closed and 100 evacuated over blaze on train
Woman opens professional cuddling shop – gets 10,000 customers in first week
Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers
Rochester by-election: Ukip gains second MP as Tory defector Mark Reckless holds seat
'Beast of Bolsover' Dennis Skinner takes Ukip MP Mark Reckless to task moments after he is sworn in
Rochester by-election: Labour MP Emily Thornberry resigns after posting white van and England flags tweet
France 'blocks' Russian sailors from boarding a warship
Rochester aftermath: Sacking of Emily Thornberry will make work of Labour MPs '10 times harder'
Revealed: How the world gets rich – from privatising British public services
£25k + commission + benefits: Savvy Media Ltd: Find a job you love and never h...
Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: CORPORATE - Corporate Solicitor NQ+ An excelle...
Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: A trustee (company d...
£45000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...