We all want to be accepted by our fellow humans, but let's face it: Somewhere, someday, you're going to run into someone who just plain doesn't like you. Maybe it's your tendency to threateningly whip out your genitals at the slightest provocation. Maybe it's your perpetual case of gas so noxious that it's as if your colon is a portal to Hell itself. Or, just as likely, it's a totally random quirk that you had no idea was turning people off.
That's right: According to science, if you want people to like you there are a few simple and completely nonsensical steps you can follow:
Have you ever met Apology Guy? You know, the guy who says he's sorry for the horrible traffic you encountered on the way to work (even though you're almost positive he's not a traffic engineer), or for the awful weather we've been having lately (even though you're pretty sure he's not a Norse god). Not one bit of the world's shittiness is his fault, yet he feels an obligatory need to apologize for everything. And maybe we all have a little bit of Apology Guy living inside us -- after all, who hasn't gone on a first date and apologized for the movie being less than good, or for the fact that it rained on your outdoor table at the cafe afterwards?
It makes no sense, so why do people do it? Because society demands that apology, and rewards you for making it. In a Harvard Business School study, researchers sent participants into a crowded train station during a deluge and tasked them with bumming cellphones off of strangers. The participants were instructed to randomly either a) ask the stranger to use their cellphone or b) apologize about the bad weather first, and then ask to use their phone.
When simply asked to hand over their phone, the strangers were about as likely to do so as they were to push the participant into the path of a moving train. After hearing the superfluous apology first, on the other hand, the strangers felt an almost hypnotic urge to toss their phone to a possible identity thief in a crowded train station.
"Sorry to hear you got delayed. Can I get the last four digits of your social?"
The series of experiments revealed that giving that unnecessary apology increases trust levels -- even though what you're doing is kind of dishonest, since you're getting sympathy for admitting to a mistake you didn't make. It's like humans are so eager to have someone to blame that you can immediately get on everyone's good side by becoming the apologetic public relations person for the universe:
"On behalf of the infinitely complex, uncontrollable cosmic forces that brought you today's weather, I apologize."
"Well, thank you for admitting you were wrong."
Yes, sometimes it's just about taking advantage of how crazy we all are.
OK, we admit this sounds ridiculous. But see if you don't find the evidence convincing:
First, let's do a little experiment. Take a minute to think about some popular, attractive, powerful males. Brad Pitt. Jon Hamm. Or John F. Kennedy, if you really must go the non-Hollywood route. Now, think about their hair. Notice any similarities? Do a Google Images search if you must; we'll wait. No we won't: Chances are they part their hair on the left.
John and Catherine Walter, a brother/sister nuclear physicist/cultural anthropologist team (presumably the unhealthy obsession with men's hair was just a mutual hobby) decided to look into why this was, and their research resulted in the Hair Part Theory. Basically, the theory observes that the way a person's hair is parted has a direct effect on others' assumptions about his or her personality.
Just don't assume that the carpet follows the same rules as the drapes.
Since "most men part their hair on the left, which is supposedly perceived as masculine and assertive," parting their hair on the right in turn causes them to be "regarded as more sensitive, effeminate, and nerdy." On the other hand, women "traditionally part their hair on the right, and if they are left-parters (like Margaret Thatcher and Hillary Clinton) they may be perceived as powerful and masculine." Having your part on the unexpected side, then, "creates vague discomfort in onlookers and may lead to being shunned."
It sounds like a buttload of quackery until you start to tally up all the examples, perhaps the greatest of which being the very pinnacle of masculinity himself, Superman:
Warner Bros. Pictures
Masculinity and color blocking.
Wimpy, nerdy, presumably erectile-dysfunctional Clark Kent has his hair parted on the right. But when he transforms into the muscular, heroic, could literally pound you into dust (with his dick) Superman, his part moves to the left.
And speaking of supermen, Internet darling Ryan Gosling's entire career supports this theory too. As he went from a lovable hunk in The Notebook to a creepy-ass loser in Lars and the Real Girl and back to a panty-dampening legend in Crazy, Stupid, Love, his hair part went from the left, to the right, to the left, respectively.
Top: Ron Swanson's younger brother.
Bottom: Someone banned from the women's section at Sears.
But that's just Hollywood, right? Chances are some producer once got wind of this theory, and it spread throughout the industry from there. Well, for some real-world examples, look no further than America's presidents. There have been only six right-parting U.S. presidents, and as the study points out, "three of them (James Buchanan, Andrew Johnson, and Warren G. Harding) are deemed by historians to be among our worst, and two others (John Tyler and Chester Arthur) are deemed to be inconsequential."Damn. Let's hear from the Chester A. Arthur defenders in the comment section!
Wow. Bigger "tariff reform" crowd than normal today.
Now, if you don't have a luscious, thick head of hair to put a nice part in, you can always ...
Male pattern baldness poses some difficult decisions for the average man. Do you grow one side out and comb it up and over the top? Start from the back and swoosh it all forward? Maybe grow an extra-long mustache, string it up behind your ears and twirl it into a sort of hair-based turban? There's no perfect option, but any option is better than going completely bald, right?
Not according to the University of Pennsylvania, it's not. They performed a series of three studies to compare the perceived personality traits of men with thinning, shaved, or thick hair. In the first, participants were shown a series of photos of similar-looking men -- the main difference being their position on the hairiness scale -- and the Mr. Cleans of the group were consistently rated as more "powerful, influential, and authoritative."
In the second, participants were shown doctored photos of the same men -- one with hair and one bald. The bald version was assumed to be not only more manly but also "nearly an inch taller and 13 percent stronger." In the third experiment, simply reading written descriptions of men was enough for participants to rate the shaved pates highest in terms of "masculinity, strength, dominance, and leadership potential."
"I like the bald look; I think it adds a couple extra inches."
"To your height?"
And while the amply-haired men were regarded as only moderately less desirable than their shinier counterparts, can you guess who came in dead last in the polls? That's right: those poor, thinning-hair bastards. The studies did find that being fully shaved makes a man look older and less attractive than having hair -- but not nearly as unattractive as having thinning hair. Thinning hair is so hideous, evidently, that the researchers posited that those who wash a bit more of their manliness down the drain each morning "may improve their interpersonal standing by shaving." In case you ever doubted that Lex Luthor knew his shit, doubt no more.