Time for a Haircut: Hairstyle Affects Perception of Intelligence

Libby Kane

Did you know that bald equals smart?

We didn’t.

According to a study by Yale Professor Marianne LaFrance, a woman’s hairstyle influences how other people perceive her: shorter hair, smarter woman.

Femininity and Intelligence

The Jane Dough describes her experiment:

“In her study, LaFrance showed her test subjects five separate pictures of the same woman. In each image, the woman had a different haircut—a short crop, long curly hair, no hair, long straight hair and a bob. LaFrance then had the study’s participants rate “each person” (that is, the same person but with different hair) on certain perceived traits, like intelligence, wealth and open-mindedness.”

LaFrance found that the most traditionally feminine hair was considered to indicate the least intelligent woman.

She connects femininity and hair length by saying that a longer, more traditionally feminine hairstyle indicates the least amount of intelligence—and let us just point out that the disturbing (but unsurprising) implications of increased femininity alongside decreased intelligence go far beyond hairstyle.

And the woman seen as the most intelligent? The one without any hair at all.

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  • Rachel

    I must be a rebel. I keep my hair long enough to put up in a twist (for meetings) but I keep it down for teaching, errands and everything else.

  • Llrogers60

    I think that people are still very bigoted and not just along racial lines.

  • Priscilla

    Typically younger women new to the work force have longer hair.  The more seasoned professionals have shorter hair.  Makes sense for women with shorter hair to be perceived as more intelligent.

  • AV

    How would they even begin to explain Indian women, who are culturally almost required to have long hair and whose education / intelligence is a top priority? 

  • Anonymous

    Hi Sarah,

    Thanks for letting us know. This can definitely be fixed, and I’ll update you when it’s working properly again.