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The Teddy-Bear Effect: Does Having a Baby Face Benefit Black Chief Executive Officers?, Psychological Science

Abstract

Prior research suggests that having a baby face is negatively correlated with success among White males in high positions of leadership. However, we explored the positive role of such “babyfaceness” in the success of high-ranking Black executives. Two studies revealed that Black chief executive officers (CEOs) were significantly more baby-faced than White CEOs. Black CEOs were also judged as being warmer than White CEOs, even though ordinary Blacks were rated categorically as being less warm than ordinary Whites. In addition, baby-faced Black CEOs tended to lead more prestigious corporations and earned higher salaries than mature-faced Black CEOs; these patterns did not emerge for White CEOs. Taken together, these findings suggest that babyfaceness is a disarming mechanism that facilitates the success of Black leaders by attenuating stereotypical perceptions that Blacks are threatening. Theoretical and practical implications for research on race, gender, and leadership are discussed.

Type

Article

Author(s)

Robert Livingston, Nicholas A. Pearce

Date Published

2009

Citations

Livingston, Robert, and Nicholas A. Pearce. 2009. The Teddy-Bear Effect: Does Having a Baby Face Benefit Black Chief Executive Officers?. Psychological Science. 20: 1229-36.

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