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Want to Be a Leader? Cultivate a Healthy Look
The appearance of fitness trumps a look of intelligence, study says

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 5, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- It's more important for potential business or political leaders to look healthy than intelligent, a new Dutch study contends.

The study included 148 adults who were shown a series of two photos of men's faces and asked to pick which one they would choose as new CEOs for companies. When selecting between each pair of photos, the CEOs' main challenge was described to the participants.

Each pair of photos actually featured the same man, but his face had been digitally altered to look more or less intelligent or more or less healthy.

Overall, participants chose more healthy-looking faces over more intelligent-looking faces 69 percent of the time. More intelligent faces were preferred only when the participants were told the CEO would have to negotiate between groups or find new markets.

The study was published Nov. 5 in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.

"Here we show that it always pays for aspiring leaders to look healthy, which explains why politicians and executives often put great effort, time and money in their appearance," study lead author Brian Spisak, assistant professor at the department of management and organization at VU University Amsterdam in the Netherlands, said in a journal news release.

"If you want to be chosen for a leadership position, looking intelligent is an optional extra under context-specific situations whereas the appearance of health appears to be important in a more context-general way across a variety of situations," Spisak concluded.

More information

The Association for Psychological Science has more about appearance.

SOURCE: Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, news release, Nov. 5, 2014

-- Robert Preidt

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