People opt for those leaders who look healthy and don't favor the most intelligent-looking candidates, indicates a new research.
The study conducted by Brian Spisak from the VU University Amsterdam and colleagues studied people's implicit preferences for traits of leaders, such as health, intelligence, and attractiveness, and how they look for information about these qualities in the physical appearance of others.
The researchers focused on facial traits because these provide a wealth of information about individuals. For example, in women as well as men, caring and cooperative personalities are statistically more likely to have a more "feminine" face, due to higher estrogen levels, while aggressive risk-takers tend to have higher testosterone levels and a more "masculine" face.
Spisak, lead author of the paper and Assistant Professor at the Department of Management and Organization of VU University Amsterdam, said that they showed that it always paid for aspiring leaders to look healthy, which explained why politicians and executives often put great effort, time, and money in their appearance.
Spisak added that if one wanted to be chosen for a leadership position, looking intelligent was an optional extra under context-specific situations whereas the appearance of health appears to be important in a more context-general way across a variety of situations.
The study is published in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.