Yale study: “Bad hair days” affect more than appearance

“Bad Hair Days” Impact Performance, Self-Esteem, Social Insecurity, and Self­-Criticism

 

Derek Thompson cutting the client's hair

Derek Thompson cutting the client's hair

NEW HAVEN, Conn., Jan. 26, 2000 /PRNewswire/ ­­ Everyone has had them; the term has even become part of the vernacular for a bad day. According to a study conducted at Yale University, “bad hair days” are real. The perception of bad hair actually produces negative consequences beyond not feeling good about how one looks. According to the study, directed by Dr. Marianne LaFrance, Professor of Psychology and Professor of Women's and Gender Studies at Yale University, “bad hair days” affect individuals’ self­-esteem—increasing self­-doubt, intensifying social insecurities, and becoming more self­-critical in general.

The study, commissioned by the team launching Physique®, a new hair care line introduced by Procter & Gamble today, was conducted among women and men of diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds in the Gender Communications Laboratory at Yale University. The research was designed to test the cause-and-effect relationship between having “bad hair” and experiencing negative psychological consequences. Specifically, the study uncovered important findings across three psychological measures: reduced self-esteem, increased social insecurity, and a diminished sense of being a worthwhile person.

Bad Hair Lowers Self-Esteem Regarding Performance

Feeling better after the haircut

Feeling better after the haircut

A person with positive performance self-esteem is an individual who is confident and optimistic that he or she is on top of things, understands what needs to be done and feels capable about being able to pull it off. According to the study, the perception of bad hair leads to a reduced sense of performance self-esteem, such that men and women doubt their capabilities and may ultimately perform below their level of competence when experiencing a bad hair day. Most notably, just the thought of a bad hair day caused both men and women to feel they are not as smart as others. Surprisingly, the impact on performance self-esteem was more pronounced among men.

Bad Hair Increases Social Insecurity

The study further found that bad hair intensifies feelings of social insecurity and self-consciousness. However, the psychological reactions differed among women and men. Women tend to feel more disgraced, embarrassed, ashamed, or self-conscious when experiencing bad hair. Men, on the other hand, feel more nervous, less confident and are more inclined to be unsociable.

A client is amazed by her new haircut!

A client is amazed by her new haircut!

Bad Hair Intensifies Self-Criticism

Evidence shows that bad hair causes one to be more negative about oneself. Specifically, results indicate that a “bad hair day” leads individuals to find more personal character flaws that go beyond their appearance. When asked to complete a list of statements about who they are, “bad hair” caused people to mention significantly more negative traits and attributes.

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