www.azbar.org/AZAttorney 18 ARIZONA ATTORNEY JULY/AUGUST 2015
the styles of beards shown to respondents,
and the types of respondents (women,
men, employers, college students, etc.).
So how do you decide whether facial
hair is OK for your clients or witnesses
when testifying before fact finders, such as
juries, judges or arbitrators? First, consider
how your clients or witnesses currently
present to others. Second, determine how
you want them to present. Third, assess
the impact of facial hair on case issues.
In general, numerous research studies
have shown that men with facial hair are
often perceived as confident, mature, competent, and composed. 2 Other researchers
have agreed, adding intelligence and
courage to this mix. 3
On the other hand, facial hair can be
viewed as intimidating, threatening, mean
and aggressive, even when all other factors
were identical. 4 Beards and mustaches also
suggest dominance and competitiveness. 5
These perceptions are amplified if the men
appear to be angry. 6
In a New Jersey study by researchers
at Montclair State University, 371 people were
asked to sketch the face
of a criminal defendant.
Surprisingly, 82 percent
of these sketches contained facial hair. 7
These studies suggest that if your client
has been accused of
abuse, assault, kidnapping, murder, or any
count that involves
dominance and control over
another, you may want your
client to be clean-shaven.
This is also true if you have
an angry client who has difficulty keeping anger or impatience in check.
In another study by these
same researchers, 63 mock
jurors were shown two photographs of men who were
similar, but one was clean-shaven and one had a beard.
They were asked which photo
belonged to a defendant in a
Ashton Kutcher, baby face to bad boy
Ben Affleck’s full beard may suggest good parenting skills—though it
may not prevent divorce
When Is Facial Hair OK?
rape case, and which belonged to a plaintiff
in a head-injury case. A total of 78 percent
picked the bearded photo as being the rape
To play it safe, clients charged with sexual offenses or sexual harassment should be
clean-shaven, as this has been shown to
suggest innocence and openness more than
bearded faces. 9 In addition, facial hair suggests more sexuality and higher testosterone levels than does a clean-shaven
face. 10 Note the difference in Ashton
Kutcher’s projection of sexual innocence
without facial hair.
Facial hair may not be viewed negatively
in child custody cases, however, if the
father has not been accused of being abusive with any family members. A 2012
Studies have shown
that men with facial
hair are often perceived
as confident, mature,