We see bearded men all over the world, some look pretty damn hot and others look the opposite, and you wonder what is hiding behind the beard.
From movie stars to sports personalities, to religious reasons there is no denying beards make a statement.
Beards Are In
Research by Tessa R. Clarkson et al. (2020)[i] discovered that women find men with facial hair to be attractive and dominant, both socially and physically.
Their study was conducted at the University of Queensland using 919 American women between the ages of 18 and 70, who rated photographs of men with various stages of facial hair. In the study, the women viewed 30 images depicting men who had been photographed without a beard, with a full beard, and after photoshopping to make them look more feminine or more masculine. They rated the men in the photos according to perceived attractiveness for a short-term relationship, and a long-term relationship.
The beauty of a beard is that if it doesn’t work out for some men, they can just shave it off and instantly they have a new image.
Bold and Bearded
The results found that beards gave the perception that the man was more socially dominant and physically stronger, and facial hair enhances masculine traits while masking less attractive facial areas.
They also found that the test subjects were viewed to have a positive association between facial masculinity and physical strength, fighting ability, and social assertiveness. Experimentally enhancing facial masculinity also increases perceptions of age and dominance.
The research also found that the men themselves felt more masculine with beards and they liked the way they could change the appearance of the beard to suit their moods and desires.
Women Who Dislike Beards
As you would expect not all women found beards attractive, there were comments made about ungroomed beards being a turn-off, that they had concerns about how unclean some were and for some women, there was a high level of pathogen disgust.
Are #Beards Trending or Traditional?
The research found that “Women’s preferences for beardedness also increased with women’s self-reported moral disgust, which may also reflect associations between beardedness and political conservatism and traditional views regarding masculinity in heterosexual relationships.”
They did not find that women with “greater reproductive ambition” preferred beards when considering long-term relationships. Although when they included women’s current relationship status, both single and married women who wanted children found beards more attractive than women who did not want children.
They also noted that the preference for a clean shave was positively linked with reproductive ambition among women who were single, with married women exhibiting a negative association with reproductive ambition.
As you would expect appearance does matter and the research found that a man’s beard was overall part of the attraction. Whether representing trend or tradition, facial hair for men continues to be a choice with consequences.