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Men with shaved heads more masculine than other men, study finds

Star of AMC drama series "Breaking Bad" Walter White (Bryan Cranston) is pictured in this AMC handout photo. The show "Breaking Bad" was nominated for the Outstanding Drama Series Emmy in Los Angeles, California, July 19, 2012.

Balding men needn't panic as their precious hairs go down the drain. Instead, they should grab a razor and shave off the rest.

That's the upshot of a new study conducted by Albert Mannes, a lecturer at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, Time reports.

His research suggests that bald men have the edge – as long as their heads are completely shorn.

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Mannes, who is follicle-challenged himself, found that men with shaved heads are more likely to be perceived as more masculine and dominant than other men, as well as taller, stronger and more powerful as leaders.

In other word, shaved head equals alpha male.

That might explain why so many toughs in the Ultimate Fighting Championship go denuded.

In Mannes' study, published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science, the perceived potency of the shaved male head persisted in three experiments. In the first, study participants were asked to rate men with a full head of hair and bald men of similar age and attire based on how powerful, influential and authoritative they looked.

In the second experiment, participants rated men in photos showing them with full heads of hair as well as digitally shaven heads. And finally, participants were given verbal and written descriptions of men, some with thick hair and others with shaved heads.

"I was surprised that perceptions of dominance and masculinity extended to concrete, physical characteristics such as height and strength," Mannes says.

The perception of manliness is linked to the fearless act of heading-shaving, he suggests. In contrast, he adds, men with thinning hair are rated as less dominant then those who go for the cueball look.

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There might be something to that. Here's a handy slide show to compare how shorn celebs such as Michael Jordan and Vin Diesel stack up against balding stars with shaggy fringes (that would be you, Jason Alexander – a.k.a. George Costanza – and you too, Dr. Phil).

Do you know any men who can pull off thinning hair? Or is the male mane an all-or-nothing affair?

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About the Author

Adriana Barton is based in The Globe and Mail’s Vancouver bureau. Her article on growing up with counterculture parents is published in a McGraw-Hill anthology, right after an essay by Margaret Atwood. She wishes her last name didn’t start with B. More


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