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Are Wide-Faced Guys the Best Negotiators?

Wide-faced guys tend to do a better job benefiting themselves than skinny-faced guys do when negotiating, but also are worse at compromising.
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A study out this month in the Leadership Quarterly says the shape of a man's face has a big impact on his negotiations skills. By monitoring male students' performances in conflict resolution and business ethics classes, the study's authors found that wide-faced guys (imagine the stereotypical stocky CEO) tend to do the best job benefiting themselves when negotiating things like signing bonuses or the sale of a chemical plant, but also are bad at compromising. Skinny-faced guys tend to be better at working together and coming up with creative solutions to business problems.

Across the board, though, the study found, good-looking guys are better at negotiating than bad-looking ones.

The Wall Street Journalreports:

Michael Haselhuhn, an assistant professor of management at UC Riverside and lead author of the study, says the latest findings are consistent with prior research on attributes associated with wide-faced males and could have implications for how all men–no matter their face shape–enter negotiations. For example, a narrow-faced man can anticipate a more contentions exchange if he knows his counterpart’s noggin is a little wider, while men with broader features can tweak their own approaches if they expect to be perceived as more aggressive from the outset.

Ultimately, Haselhuhn and his colleagues note in the study, their research is a reminder that looks often play an under-appreciated role in business exchanges. "Our research demonstrates that it is important for researchers to look beyond transitory physical behaviors to understand how stable physical traits may also convey important information at the bargaining table," they write. —Paul Bisceglio