What male characteristics do women value?

Perception: Competence looks masculine

If we are to assess a person's abilities based on their appearance, then competence and masculinity obviously go hand in hand. This is at least indicated by a study published by researchers working with DongWon Oh from Princeton University in the journal ┬╗Psychological Science┬ź.

The scientists first presented the test participants with pictures of different faces in several experiments and asked them to assess how capable the people depicted looked at first glance. Based on the results, they then developed a model that allowed them to manipulate photos on the computer in such a way that the people shown on them appeared sometimes more, sometimes less competent. DongWon Oh and colleagues then presented these recordings to new test subjects. This time, among other things, it was about assessing the masculinity of the people depicted. The researchers discovered that faces that had been manipulated in such a way that they looked particularly competent were also rated as particularly male by the test subjects. In addition, the people shown were also believed to have more self-confidence. In an online experiment, test subjects also viewed the faces calibrated for competence as more masculine, while the incompetent-looking faces were classified as more feminine. It did not matter how attractive the people depicted were.

In a final experiment, the scientists finally changed male and female faces so that they sometimes appeared more masculine and sometimes more feminine. Men saw the test subjects as more competent, the more masculine they were represented. This correlation also applied to female faces - but only up to a certain point: the most masculine female faces were ultimately classified as less competent again.

"Our research shows the fateful gender bias that is linked to our perception of others," says DongWon Oh. "We consider people with a masculine appearance to be competent - and that can influence our management decisions." The results of the scientists join a growing number of studies that show that leadership qualities today are still primarily based on typically male Properties are associated. But unfortunately a competent charisma is not always an indication of actually existing competence, says DongWon Oh. The researchers therefore want to find out how the effect can be mitigated next.