Apparent height and body mass index influence perceived leadership ability in three-dimensional faces

Daniel Edward Re, Milena Dzhelyova, Iris Jasmin Holzleitner, Cara Tigue, David Feinberg, David I. Perrett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


Facial appearance has a well-documented effect on perceived leadership ability. Face judgments of leadership ability predict political election outcomes across the world, and similar judgments of business CEOs predict company profits. Body height is also associated with leadership ability, with taller people attaining positions of leadership more than their shorter counterparts in both politics and in the corporate world. Previous studies have found some face characteristics that are associated with leadership judgments, however there have been no studies with three-dimensional faces. We assessed which facial characteristics drive leadership judgments in three-dimensional faces. We found a perceptual relationship between height and leadership ability. We also found that facial maturity correlated with leadership judgments, and that faces of people with an unhealthily high body mass index received lower leadership ratings. We conclude that face attributes associated with body size and maturity alter leadership perception, and may influence real-world democratic leadership selection.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1477-1485
Issue number12
Early online date1 Jan 2012
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2012


  • Facial adiposity
  • BMI
  • Physical height
  • Facial maturity


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