The Blond Not-So-Bond, or Why Women Laugh When I Call Myself “Dangerous and Edgy”

When I worked at Express Scripts, I had the chance to speak briefly to our account management team, the hundreds of people who work daily to support the needs of clients.  They provide excellent consultation, solve problems, and are our heroes in the trenches who help the folks back at HQ understand the evolving, unspoken needs of the market.

Many of the faces were new to me (and only in part due to my spotty memory); gobs of talented people had joined Express Scripts from a recent acquisition.  Clambering onto the stage in my black slacks, blue shirt, sweater vest, and tweed jacket, I introduced myself: “I’m Bob Nease, Chief Scientist at Express Scripts.  Based on what I’m wearing, I know that’s hard to believe; most people mistake me for a professional athlete or a secret agent.”

I was simultaneously pleased and hurt at the reaction: lots of laughter.  (And I know what you’re thinking… when was the last time I heard the phrase “secret agent”?) Over the next couple of days, I got lots of ribbing: “Hey, don’t you play for the Cardinals?” or “Hey, Bob… James Bob!”  Cute.

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A study suggests that it might be my narrow face rather than the tweed jacket that’s to blame.  In a series of experiments, researchers at the University of St. Andrews found that men with broad faces were less trustworthy in economic exchanges.  They summarize their findings (so I don’t have to):

Experiment 1 showed that the ratio of facial (bizygomatic) width to height predicts male reciprocation behavior in trust games such that wider faced males are more likely to exploit trust than are slimmer faced males. In Experiment 2, participants were less likely to trust male counterparts with wide rather than slim faces (independent of their attractiveness). Moreover, in Experiment 3, manipulating face width with computer graphics controlled attributions of trustworthiness, particularly for subordinate female evaluators. These results clearly demonstrate that facial width-to-height ratio is used as a valid cue to trustworthiness.

In other words, nice guys may not always get the girl, but neither do the Neanderthals.  And take that, Daniel Craig!  (But don’t beat me up.)

(Note: this entry originally appeared at consumerology.com)

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