US President Donald Trump’s facial features are linked to aggressive, dominant nature as well as unethical behaviour and exploitation of trust, say scientists who confirmed that physical height, face structure and gender can affect a person’s chance of becoming a leader.
The research is part of an extensive literature review which examines a diverse range of fields to identify what individual factors determine leadership success.
Physical height, facial structure and gender can affect a person’s chance of becoming a leader – as confirmed by Trump’s election, said Oguz Ali Acar, from the City University London’s Cass Business School in the UK.
“Trump has a masculine, older-looking face with high width-to-height ratio (fWHR). We found empirical research that links this high fWHR to various important leadership outcomes,” said Acar. “Those who have higher ratio, like Trump, are more likely to be more aggressive, dominant and powerful. They are better negotiators and are financially more successful,” he said.
“One study we saw found a positive association between the width of a male CEO’s face relative to its height and the financial performance of the firm,” Acar said.
“However, such a facial structure is also linked to darker outcomes such as unethical behaviour and exploitation of trust of others,” he added.
“Trump has a masculine looking face, which is often perceived as dominant and is preferred in competitive settings, such as wartime,” he said. “However, masculine faces are perceived as less trustworthy and are not preferred in cooperative settings such as peacetime. The current increased global terror threat may have contributed to his election,” Acar said.
Trump also looks older and although this is associated with competence, older-looking leaders are not preferred in times of change.
Trump’s fWHR may have an impact on his relations with other international leaders, Acar said.
“The dominance associated with fWHR may be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it can be an asset for the US for example by securing a better deal in international negotiations,” he said.
“On the other hand, it can lead to conflicts – or even a foreign policy crisis – when the other leader are also dominant. In addition, trust issues associated with fWHR may inhibit forming cooperative relationships,” Acar added.
“It is currently unclear what Trump plans to about his business interests. However, based on his facial characteristics alone; one could expect to Trump to keep as much control as possible over his organisation and not to compromise,” he said.
“An aggressive and dominant approach towards those who oppose this may be expected. The tendencies of unethical
behaviour and exploitation of trust make this conflict of interest an area of concern,” he added.
The research was published in The Leadership Quarterly journal.