10 March 2018

Makeup study reveals leadership perceptions

Makeup study reveals leadership perceptions

Women wearing heavy makeup are less likely to be thought of as good leaders, new research from Abertay University has found.

A study led by Dr Christopher Watkins of Abertay’s Division of Psychology, published today in Perception journal, revealed that the amount of makeup a woman is wearing can have a negative impact on perceptions of her leadership ability.

Study participants were asked to view a series of images featuring the same woman without cosmetics and with makeup applied for a “social night out”.

Computer software was used to manipulate the faces and the amount of makeup was also manipulated in the face images.

Each participant completed a face perception task where they judged sixteen face-pairs, indicating how much better a leader they felt their chosen face to be compared to the other face.

It was found that both men and women evaluated women more negatively as a leader if the image suggested she was wearing a lot of makeup.

Dr Watkins said: “This research follows previous work in this area, which suggests that wearing makeup enhances how dominant a woman looks.

“While the previous findings suggest that we are inclined to show some deference to a woman with a good looking face, our new research suggests that makeup does not enhance a woman’s dominance by benefitting how we evaluate her in a leadership role.

“This work is a good example of the diverse and interesting research ongoing within the Division of Psychology.”

The study was carried out by Abertay graduates Esther James and Shauny Jenkins and used a measurement scale common in face perception research, which calculates the first-impressions of the participant group as a whole, working out an average verdict.

Dr Watkins (below) has carried out previous high-profile studies including work looking at how women remember the faces potential love rivals and the role of traits related to dominance in our choice of allies, colleagues and friends.

Abertay University offers BSc (Hons) degree courses in Psychology, Psychology and Forensic Biology, Psychology and Counselling, Sport and Psychology and Psychology and Human Resource Management, as well as MSc Psychology and Masters by Research/PhD opportunities

To view the full study visit http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0301006618763263

 For more information on studying at Abertay visit https://www.abertay.ac.uk/schools/social-and-health-sciences/division-of-psychology/

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