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Aggressive Faces

November 26, 2009

Men’s facial structure correlates with aggressive behavior, and how others judge them.


The face of aggression. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

The shape of a man’s face may predict how aggressive he is. This according to researchers at Brock University in Canada. Psychologist Cheryl McCormick’s team studies facial width-to-height ratio: that’s the distance between the left and right cheeks, divided by the distance from the upper lip to mid-brow. They’ve compared this ratio to men’s scores on a computerized aggression test.

CHERYL McCORMICK (Brock University):
And we found that there was a relationship between this facial measure and how aggressive they were on this task.

They’ve also found that hockey players with a greater width-to-height ratio spend more time in the penalty box. Most recently, they showed photos of men they’d studied before to strangers. The strangers said the men with wider faces looked more aggressive – even if they saw each photo for less than a tenth of a second. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.