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Study Shows Why Goatees Make You Look Evil: Upside Down Triangles

It’s common knowledge that a goatee, especially a sharp triangular goatee, is indicative of an inherently evil nature (at least in fiction). The question is why. Does it have something to do with facial hair? Is it just a convenient fictional device that’s been absorbed by culture at large? Something altogether different? It’s still not completely clear, but a study conducted by Dr. Derrick Watson and Dr. Elisabeth Blagrove of the University of Warwick has managed to prove one connection; people react the same way to an upside down triangle as they do to an angry face.

Now, not all goatees are perfectly sculpted upside down triangles, but most of the ones worn by fictional characters as a marker of evil are. It’s probably an unconscious attempt to capitalize on this effect. In the study, participants were shown a collection of pictures of faces with positive, neutral, and negative expressions. In this section, those tested responded to the negative faces the fastest. The second part of the study had the same basic principle, but instead of being shown faces, participants were shown pictures of triangles that pointed either left, right, up, or down. Much like the angry faces, participants were instantly drawn to the downward facing triangles, suggesting a connection.

Of course, this is just a correlative study, so it doesn’t do anything to show which causes which. It’s equally likely that goatees look evil because they’re downward facing triangles as it is, and downward facing triangles got the participants’ attention because they happen to look a lot like evil goatees. That said, the first explanation somehow seems more reasonable. Either way, the next time you want to look intimidating, or at the very least angry, remember the key is to incorporate a lot of downward facing triangles into your, uh, face. That being the case, a goatee is probably the best way to go unless you think you can pull off these.

(via io9)

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