Forget about the hair plugs — new research suggests men with thinning hair would be better just shaving it all off.
A new study indicates men who choose to go bald by shaving their heads are perceived as being more masculine, even taller and physically stronger — although less attractive than men with a full head of hair.
The study, published in the peer-reviewed journal Social Psychological & Personality Science, included three tests of people’s perceptions of men based on how much hair they had on their heads.
In each test, participants were asked to rate men with hair, shaved heads, and naturally thinning hair on how dominant and attractive they appeared. The first test included nearly 60 college-age men and women. The second two tests questioned hundreds of participants from a national online panel.
“The results were consistent across all three studies,” said Albert Mannes, a lecturer at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania who conducted the study.
The results might not be surprising for anybody who has ever seen an action movie: men who shave their heads are perceived as being more dominant and masculine. Those men were also perceived as being on average one inch taller, and able to bench press 15 more pounds than other men.
The study also suggests, however, that bald men are seen as less attractive than their counterparts who have a thick head of hair.
Mannes said he has a number of theories as to why this might be the case.
One possibility is that shaved heads are associated with stereotypically masculine professions: the military, police, firefighting, and more recently, professional sports.
Another theory is that Hollywood has had an effect on society’s views of bald men — as anybody who has seen Bruce Willis, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Vin Diesel or Jason Statham in one of their many action movie roles could attest.
“Take, for instance, Bryan Cranston on ‘Breaking Bad.’ He went from high school teacher to hardcore drug lord just by shaving his head,” Mannes said.
Yet another possibility is that men who shave their heads are going against the norm of a society that places so much value on beauty, of which hair is a large part.
“It takes a lot of confidence to go the route of baldness, so we think they must be really self-confident,” Mannes told ABC News.
He also points out this could be a largely American phenomenon, noting that in England, shaved heads are more closely associated with skinheads.
Still, it seems shaved could be the way to go…if you’re already losing your hair.
“I’m not recommending that men with thick full heads of hair shave their heads, because even if they gain in terms of dominance, they lose in terms of attractiveness,” Mannes said. “But if you’re balding, you might want to just finish what mother nature started and take it all off. You might be surprised by the positive effects.”