Women are more attracted to men who have beards, study finds
Beards. Love them or hate them, they're here to stay, and now that we live in the age of the hipster, they are more popular than ever. So popular, in fact, that a new study has found that women are more attracted to men with face fuzz.
Published in the journal Royal Society Open Science, and conducted by researchers from the University of Queensland and the University of Stirling, the study investigated the effects of beards in heterosexual attraction.
In the video below, much to the heartbreak of many, Jason Momoa shaves his beard off:
A group of 919 women who identified as predominantly heterosexual were given three male faces to rate in terms of attractiveness for short and long term relationships.
As beards are one of the biggest traditionally masculine features, this is what the study used to distinguish the faces, presenting them to participants with five different levels of traditional masculinity - a full beard, a prominent jawline and brow, and deep-set narrow eyes.
The women's attitudes to these features were then measured scientifically using their revulsion in response to parasites that live on the body, and whether or not they expressed a desire to have children.
It wasn't long before a clear trend emerged: traditionally "masculine" features received a better response than "feminine" ones - feminine, in this instance, referring to a clean-shaven face.
In short, the hairier a man was, the better the response from the participants. This was because a higher level of traditional masculinity created the impression that a man had greater physical and social dominance.
However, it's not all bad news for men who prefer to be clean-shaven. The women who were most disgusted by ectoparasites (fleas and lice) were the least attracted to bearded men.
As per the study's results: "This could be interpreted as evidence that facial hair is preferred as a marker of health among women with high pathogen concerns, or that facial hair masks areas of the face that would communicate ill health."
However, the Guardian reports that study co-author Anthony Lee, from the University of Stirling, said that evolutionary fears could be behind these results.
"This is likely to be the case for the majority of our evolutionary past," he said. "In modern times, with increased grooming and overall better hygiene, this link between hairiness and carrying ectoparasites may no longer exist, but the evolved tendency may still persist."
Lee, therefore, concluded that men should have as much or as little facial hair as they want, saying: "I wouldn't base the decision to grow a beard on the results of a single study."