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Surprising Science

Watch Out For Those Wide-Faced Men

A new study is only the latest to link higher-than-average facial width to certain unsavory behaviors, including — in this case — the propensity to cheat. However, the researchers warn not to judge a book by its cover.

What’s the Latest Development?

Brock University researchers asked a group of undergraduates — about two-thirds of them men — to complete a personality survey designed to measure certain psychopathic traits, including “cold-heartedness” and “self-centered impulsivity.” They were then invited to enter into a lottery by rolling a pair of dice online to determine the number of entries and reporting their total. Participants did this in what they believed was an unsupervised environment. Men who had a higher-than-average facial-width-to-height ratio (fWHR) “were both more likely to cheat, and cheated to a greater extent, sometimes wildly inflating the actual number they rolled.” A paper describing the experiment was published in Personality and Individual Differences.

What’s the Big Idea?

The study adds to other research linking higher fWHRs in men to behaviors such as heightened aggression and competition. The Brock team notes a University of California-Riverside study that found a connection between fWHR and testosterone, and mentions that the wide-faced men in their experiment scored higher on the psychopathic trait of “fearless dominance.” However, both sets of researchers warn against jumping to conclusions: UC-Riverside study author Michael Haselhuhn points out that facial width ratios can’t be easily gauged with the naked eye, and the Brock team writes that fearless dominance doesn’t necessarily translate to increased criminal behavior.

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Read it at Pacific Standard


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