Masculine faces seen as more competent than female ones

People with masculine faces are perceived to be more competent than those with feminine features, which could adversely affect our choice of world leaders, according to a new study.

Published in the journal Psychological Science, the study examined the “visual ingredients” of a person’s appearance that could convince others of their capability to be efficient and/or successful.

Researchers at Princeton University used data from previous studies, where participants had rated a variety of different faces on how competent they thought the person was based on appearance alone.

By presenting these same faces to 33 volunteers as part of a new online experiment, and asking them to identify them as either male or female, the study’s authors identified a clear gender bias: people rated the more competent faces as male and the less competent ones as female.

They also found that the competent faces were generally perceived as being more confident and “masculine”.

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