Student Life

Embracing the smooth scalp: Study shows benefits of baldness


Graphic by Jennifer Kwan

It gets tangled and messy when we don’t pay attention to it. We spend hundreds of dollars a year to keep it looking shiny and great. Essentially, it defines us as a person, the ultimate means of expression. Hair. It’s a security blanket, and most men and women are terrified of losing it.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. Throughout the month, people will take part in the Virgin Radio and Quebec Breast Foundation’s Shave to Save fundraiser, trading in their luscious locks for a smooth, bare scalp. According to a recent study, being bald may actually turn out to work in their favour.

The study was led by Albert Mannes, a researcher and lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania. In a series of three experiments involving pictures of bald men, participants rated the “shorn-scalped” individuals higher in the masculinity, strength, leadership, and dominance departments.

Albert Mannes told The Concordian his work was inspired by his own experience.

“I noticed that strangers were a bit more standoffish, and in some cases even deferential, after I started shaving my head,” he says.

Three experiments took place. The first involved participants viewing photos of men dressed similarly, the only difference being their hair or lack thereof.  Participants were asked to rate the men on how authoritative, powerful and influential their appearance made them seem.

The second experiment involved comparing two photos of the same man. While one photo included his full mane, the other had his hair digitally removed. Participants viewed the bald men as 13% stronger and an inch taller than their authentic counterpart.

Mannes was surprised by this perception of strength and height, and said he believes that these qualities are “positively correlated.” According to Mannes, a person’s perception of dominance, for example, may be accompanied by a perception of strength.

In the third study, participants did not have any visual cues. They were given a verbal and written description of the men. Those described as being bald were thought to be more manly and dominant than those described as having a thick head of hair.

Concordia child studies student, Savanah Pereira, believes that the results are proof that people have a natural need to “fit into roles” based on what society expects of them.

While the bare scalps may have won in the dominance department, the study also revealed that bald men were seen as older and more unattractive. However, balding men benefit the most, according to Mannes.

“Men with thick heads of hair should not shave it. Whatever they gain in dominance is lost in attractiveness,” he says. “But men losing their hair gain in both perceived dominance and attractiveness.”

According to Mannes, the media also plays a large role in the results.

“The shaved Hollywood action hero dates back at least to Yul Brynner, but has grown over time,” he saod. “Bruce Willis and Jason Statham are two notable examples. Even Mr. Clean.”

The question still remains, does a study like this encourage men to part with their hair? Pereira thinks older men may have less of a hard time doing so.

“For younger men, it may be harder to convince them,” she says.

If you’re feeling a new look and are willing to end your relationship with your locks for a good cause, visit for more information on how to donate.


Watching it happen through a lens

Graphic by Jennifer Kwan.

Concerts. If you’re like me, you know the feeling of sheer excitement and euphoria felt at a really good show.

The unbearable heat, the screams that break sound barriers, the vibrating wood floors, and…the constant glow of smartphone screens.

I’ve been going to concerts since I was six. In fact, my first concert as a six -year-old was at the Metropolis.

I can still remember my sister sneaking in our camera in my Lion King purse. She wanted to take a few pictures, and she chose her shots wisely because we were using a Flintstone disposable camera.

With smartphones like the iPhone, HTC, and Samsung Galaxy sporting eight megapixel cameras and full HD video, the possibilities are endless. It also means everyone feels the need to act as paparazzi at concerts. It’s a given. Every concert I have been to in the past two years, be it a small or large venue, smartphones and other popular ‘intelligent devices’ with not so intelligent users are part of the lighting display.

There are people who hold them way up in the air, and if you are plagued with the issue of being a four-foot-tall 19-year-old like myself, then you’re the one watching the concert through 50 different little LCD screens. Charming.

I totally understand the desire to grab a few shots, maybe even a few minutes of video of your favourite song. However, holding up your device throughout the whole show is excessive. Essentially, you are paying for a ticket to watch your favourite artist through a screen when they are literally three feet away from you.

“It can be a little annoying if it is a visual spectacle,” said Hare Patel, a Concordia English & history student. However, he said he believes that if someone bought their ticket, they have the right to do what they please.

What I don’t understand is that most of the time you aren’t even getting a good shot. Face it; your videos are a hot mess on playback because you were flailing all over the place when filming, and you surely caught the soprano singer in the background screeching all the wrong lyrics.

“The picture quality is awful,” said Sandrine Fafard, a communications student at Concordia. “But at the same time I want to share it!”

In addition to the need to be the modern day Warhol, instagramming their hearts away, people feel the need to live tweet their experience.

You need to be there to understand the excitement. Your twitter followers aren’t, and if you are focussed on tweeting, you actually aren’t either.

People constantly feel the need to capture the moment, trap the memory inside their tiny microchip, and keep it forever. We don’t want to let go of anything for fear of never being able to feel it again. What we don’t realize is that in doing so, we are actually missing out on the moment. Believe me, put that camera or phone down and let the music engulf you, laugh and sing along with hundreds of strangers. That feeling is more powerful than any flash or recording device on the planet.

Interestingly, Fafard is more annoyed with the use of phone screens instead of lighters.
“If you want to rock it, rock it for real,” she said.

On the one hand, part of me is glad phone screens have replaced lighters at concerts as I don’t really trust the human population with that much fire in a closed venue. But on the other, if it means getting rid of endless picture and video-taking at concerts, I’ll take the lighters any day.

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