Core self-evaluations mediate the association between leaders' facial appearance and their professional success: Adults' and children's perceptions

Although the link between facial appearance and success is well established, the mechanisms responsible for this association have remained elusive. Evolutionary theory suggests that perceived leadership characteristics should be important for men’s self-concept. Drawing on implicit leadership theory and evolutionary perspectives, we therefore examined the associations between first impressions based on facial appearance, core self-evaluations (CSEs), leadership role occupancy, and career success among a sample of working men. In Study 1, we found that CSEs mediated the relationship between individuals’ facial appearance and measures of their success as leaders. In Study 2, we replicated these results using children’s ratings of facial appearance, thus suggesting that basic properties of the targets’ faces communicated their leadership ability more than the perceivers’ life experience or acquired knowledge. These results suggest that people may use facial appearance as a diagnostic tool to determine the leadership ability of others.