Phrenology Is Legit: Wide-Faced Men Are Untrustworthy

Think you can’t judge a person’s character by the shape of his skull? Think again:

Researchers spanning many scientific domains, including primatology, evolutionary biology and psychology, have sought to establish an evolutionary basis for morality. While researchers have identified social and cognitive adaptations that support ethical behaviour, a consensus has emerged that genetically determined physical traits are not reliable signals of unethical intentions or actions. Challenging this view, we show that genetically determined physical traits can serve as reliable predictors of unethical behaviour if they are also associated with positive signals in intersex and intrasex selection. Specifically, we identify a key physical attribute, the facial width-to-height ratio, which predicts unethical behaviour in men. Across two studies, we demonstrate that men with wider faces (relative to facial height) are more likely to explicitly deceive their counterparts in a negotiation, and are more willing to cheat in order to increase their financial gain. Importantly, we provide evidence that the link between facial metrics and unethical behaviour is mediated by a psychological sense of power. Our results demonstrate that static physical attributes can indeed serve as reliable cues of immoral action, and provide additional support for the view that evolutionary forces shape ethical judgement and behaviour.

So, you really want to limit your dealings with guys who look like this:

This whole subject — that character traits and behaviors can be predicted by physical features — is pregnant with deliciously unsavory thoughtcrime. Do women get more viscerally aroused by wide-faced, beady-eyed men because of women’s attraction to the male dark triad of personality traits? Are long-faced, large-eyed men, presumably more trustworthy, more likely to ascend the corporate ladder? Do wide male faces differ in frequency among population groups? Are people with sloping foreheads really stupider than people with high foreheads? If the genes responsible for making wide male faces and beady eyes also predispose those men to unethical or criminal behavior, what does that say about free will? Criminal culpability? And why, in the first place, would wide faces evolve to be associated with a badboy personality? Why not long faces?

And can we make predictions of women’s behavior based on their facial structure? This blog previously examined the connection between women’s looks and their behavior, and the hysterical screeching it caused amongst the feminists suggests that this avenue of inquiry will not be one any scientist concerned about his reputation or tenure track will want to vigorously pursue.

Luckily the Chateau is here to talk about the things everyone else REALLY wants to talk about, but is afraid to do so.

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