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If you’re blonde then you’re more likely to get hit on at the bar, but less likely to be the CEO of a top 500 company. What gives?
Well, as it turns out, society has some preconceived notions of who we are based on our hair color. You can blame TV, movies, and magazines. Marilyn Monroe is often cited in studies as the “Blonde Bombshell,” while redheads like Christina Hendricks are gaining attention as fiery and sexy. Darker hair colors, which are the most common, are often seen as belonging to dependable and intelligent people.
Here are some of the common notions and how they affect our romantic and social life and our careers.
Would Men Rather Date Blondes?
Well, actually, it depends for what they prefer them. And who’s doing the preferring.
Overall, brunettes, who’re sort of “Plain Janes” have a tendency to seem stable and emotionally sound and tend to be most preferred, whereas blondes seem fun but dumb, and red-heads are passionate and fiery (Social Sciences Journal).
And these perceptions extend to real life. Blondes are more likely to be approached in bars (Scandinavian Journal of Psychology). Redheads have a more active sex life, according to a German study (LA Times). And brunettes are viewed as better “wife material,” according to a study by hairdresser Andrew Collinge’s company (Marie Claire).
But it’s Not Just Stereotypes that Affect Our Preferences
Our history and our own hair color also tend to affect our attraction.
A study done in 1971, which was during the period (1960-2000) when blonde dye purchasing was at its peak, found that your own hair color plays a role (Sex Roles). Brunette men preferred brunette women, blonde men preferred brunettes and blonds equally, and blonde, brunette, and red-headed women all preferred men with dark hair (all participants were Caucasian).
People tend to be attracted to people based on their past interpersonal experiences. For example, was the person who bullied them in high school a blonde? They might prefer brunettes and redheads (Journal of Applied Psychology). But if you always had a pack of blonde friends, you might feel that blondes really are more fun. Essentially, in the same way you might make associations with certain names or certain professions, hair color is no different; and these associations may effect how you interact with others.
Essentially, your experiences with people count for more than just the biases that you might have developed based on the media.
But do you know what actually counts quite a bit in the mate-selection process? Healthy hair. Your hair is a sign of your health and studies have shown that men are on the prowl for someone whose overall health is reflected in their hair — regardless of color (Journal of Experimental Social Psychology).
Does Hair Color Affect Your Climb Up the Corporate Ladder?
A study of CEOs in the UK found that some hair color stereotypes hold true. While blondes made up 20% of the population, they only made up 5% of CEOs of top 500 companies. And redheads, who made up only 1% of the population, held a whopping 4% of CEO positions (Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment).
The reason? Stereotypes, plain and simple.
Blondes are considered warm and friendly, but not particularly bright, whereas redheads are seen as somewhat cold and unpopular, but very competent. These stereotypes didn’t extend to brown or black hair, which made up the majority of CEOs’ hair colors and are widely considered “competent.” And so, despite the fact that we may tell “dumb blonde” jokes, it seems these perceptions are rubbing off on us in ways we don’t realize.
The solution? The researchers say it’s important for hirers to be cognizant of these biases so that we can stop them. After all, there are plenty of smart blonde men and women out there.
The color of your hair definitely plays a role in how people view you. Red, brown, black, blonde — we have different ideas about each one based on our culture’s stereotypes. In how we date and how we hire, we look at people’s personalities and credentials, but also — surprise! — at their hair color.
But don’t let these biases inform your decisions. It’s important to bring light to certain biases we have about hair color the way we do about gender, ethnicity, etc., to ensure that we don’t let our perceptions color our actions. And, aside from that, there are a lot of qualities that count when you’re meeting someone, not just the color of your locks.
So whatever color you’re rocking, wear your hair color with pride!