Researchers asked the study’s participants to imagine that they were choosing a new CEO for their company. One hundred forty-eight men and women were surveyed, and told to pick between two digitally enhanced photos of the same man’s face across four different scenarios: driving competition, negotiating a partnership, introducing the company to a new market, and using existing resources efficiently.
The photos were altered based on health, intelligence, attractiveness, and masculinity–a healthier face, for example, would look more flushed and pigmented, while a masculine face might have a heavier, more prominent jawline. (The more masculine traits were interpreted as less intelligent.)
Turns out we’re partial to leaders who boast a healthy glow. Over 69% of trials showed a strong preference of high health over low health, regardless of the accompanying job description. There were two cases in which high intelligence was strongly favored over low intelligence, both of which involved forging new relationships–negotiating a new partnership and exploring new markets.
The paper’s lead author, Brian Spisak of VU University Amsterdam, noted that the results explain why “politicians and executives often put great effort, time, and money in their appearance.” Keep at it, folks.