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The Psychology of Hair Loss

Long ago, a full head of hair was valued as a means of protection, heat retention, and camouflage.

Today we value hair for other reasons. Whether we admit it or not, good hair still is associated with power, virility and youth.

Such associations date back to ancient times. Remember the story of Samson and Delilah? When Delilah cut Samson’s long hair he lost his power.

Hair loss and weakness "And Delilah made him sleep on her knees; and she called for a man, and she caused him to shave off the seven locks of Samson’s head. . . and his strength went from him."
(Judges 16:19)

As “enlightened” as we are today, stereotypes associated with hair loss persist. The bald or balding are sometimes passed over and teased at work, in the media, and in the social scene. The media idolizes the young and the attractive and often lampoons the bald or balding.

Of course, it’s not fair. But at least losing your hair is not health threatening. However, it can result in various psychological and emotional issues. These include insecurity, isolation, panic, a sense of loss, and even depression. But let’s first look at the role of hair (and the lack of it) in our society.

How is Hair Loss seen by Society?

So why does something as superficial as hair seem so important to so many men and women?

Studies have shown that hair is a symbol of social, professional, cultural, and/or religious affiliations. Good hair implies power, virility, strength and youth.

Studies reveal how baldness is perceived.

In a study done in 1971, a picture of one person was distributed to 60 people. But each picture had been altered by a commercial artist to reflect a non bald, balding, or bald condition. The results revealed some negative stereotypes.

stereotypes about bald men

When the person was shown with a balding head of hair he was rated as weak, dull, and inactive. This same person with a bald head of hair was rated as unkind, bad, and ugly. Yet this same person with a full head of hair was rated as handsome, virile, strong, active, and sharp.

Today, more than 30 years later, it is hard to know if things have really changed. But maybe some of these tired negative stereotypes about being bald are starting to change, at least in the media.

bald men in the media

Today, bald NYPD Blue's -Dennis Franz, a multiple Emmy Award-winner, is considered a sex symbol.

bald man Tony SopranoAs is Tony Soprano of the popular HBO TV show the Sopranos.
bald men on tvAnd, of course, let’s not forget Telly Savalas of the 70’s TV show Kojak who was once voted by People magazine as the “sexiest man alive.”

Studies about Baldness and Self Esteem

Those who are bald or balding are generally thought of as older, weaker, and more ineffectual, both in the work world and on the social scene.

According to a 1995 article in the “British Journal of Psychology,” balding men have been found to have lower levels of self-esteem than their peers, are less sociable, suffer more from depression, and are less likely to succeed in life.

Hair loss, especially when first occurring, can lead to rash decisions. So it is important to slow down and look at the many viable options that are available for dealing successfully with hair loss.

Our Hair Treatments section offers in-depth information on many viable treatments.

1992, researchers from the Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia surveyed 145 balding men and found that 84% were preoccupied with baldness.

Their responses showed that they were filled with self-consciousness and helplessness. They were also envious of men with full heads of hair.

Additional research indicated that single men and woman who had begun losing hair in their early twenties were more likely to suffer from extremely low self-esteem.

Continue learning about how you can cope with hair loss and find support.