If you’ve ever wondered why the majority of male celebrities are ditching the clean-shaven look for scruffs of facial hair or a full-grown beard, you wouldn’t be surprised to learn it’s to boost their sex appeal.
But, what would you say if I told you it was more scientific than that?
A study conducted by the Official Journal of the Human Behavior and Evolution Society states that the type of beard a man has indicates how the public perceives him.
However, this doesn’t mean different styles of facial hair all represent the same set of qualities.
“I wonder if the positive effects of beards are a matter of the current cultural preference for beards, and perhaps the idea that bearded men are more mature, confident and reliable is because that is what we are tending to associate with beards these days,” Dr. Christopher Oldstone-Moore, a senior lecturer at Wright State University wrote in an email to the New York Times.
“Whenever masculinity is redefined facial hairstyles change to suit,” he added.
Light Stubble or Clean-Shaven: Those surveyed ranked men with light stubble (five days unshaven) or clean-shaven as the least attractive by both sexes. Participants also said they’d most likely have a short-term fling or one-night stand with males with light stubble, as opposed to a serious relationship.
Heavy Stubble: Female participants who analyzed photos of men with heavy stubble (10 days unshaven) viewed them as the most attractive of the bunch, but were also viewed as someone a woman would like to spend time with, but are less likely to commit to.
Full Beard: Men with a full are viewed by sexes as the healthiest, most masculine, and having the best parenting skills. They were also deemed the best long-term partners, because their beard “indicates a male’s ability to compete for resources.”
But, while they’re also described as the most generous, sincere, industrious and self-confident, these men are also described as having antisocial traits, such as aggression and social dominance.
According to the research, men who are attracted to other men actually prefer thicker facial hair than what their significant others usually sport. The authors of the study indicated that both sexes typically don’t end up with their “ideal” partners in terms of facial hair, and must “compromise” that aspect in the relationship.
Another study conducted by the same publication argues that beards are more common in high density cities that have a lower average income. Since there may be more competition in finding a partner, men may chose to boost their masculinity by growing a beard.
However, when men are living in less populated towns with limited competition and have a higher income, they’re more likely to do away with their facial hair.
“When competition in the social environment is reduced and the need to signal dominance is of less importance, men may dial down their masculinity through shaving or grooming their beards,” Dr. Barnaby Dixson said in an email to the New York Times.
Dixson also added that the popularity of a certain style of facial hair varies depending on how many individuals are spotting the same look. For example, if more men have a thicker beard, prospective partners may not view it as attractive compared to when only a few do.
“When beardedness becomes too common, it is less attractive than when it is rare,” he wrote in the study. “This may explain why fashions and trends in beardedness fluctuate over time.”
So this begs the question, what type of facial hair do you prefer?
For more interesting studies, take a look at what these researchers have discovered: