The Buzz had a hairy discussion Friday with Kiran Karande. The marketing professor at Old Dominion University co-wrote a newly published study showing that people trusted whiskerless men more than bearded guys. Buzz, who is partial to facial hair, was not happy.
In the study, published this month in Cornell Hospitality Quarterly, 102 people were shown photos of different men. They were asked to imagine each as a front-desk hotel employee and rate his “assurance ability” – or perceived competence. Those who smiled more and looked more attractive won higher marks. No surprise there.
Beards helped the Boston Red Sox win the World Series. But bearded guys got lower grades than clean-shaven men in the study. That also was no surprise to Karande, who said previous studies showed that shavers are perceived as “more sociable.” One caveat: No difference in the perceptions of black men with and without beards.
The lead author was Vincent Magnini, an associate professor of hospitality at Virginia Tech who received his Ph.D. in marketing from Old Dominion. So should hotels require employees to shave?
“The way I would put it,” said Karande, who is beardless, “is the findings have to be taken cautiously. We need more research,” such as whether the quality of a hotel influences the results. Phew. Buzz doesn’t have to shave just yet.