Women are more attracted to men with beards, study reveals

Henrietta Strickland
January 15, 2020

As the old adage goes: "Depends on the man, depends on the beard". But are beards attractive?

Now researchers have found there might be another factor: whether a potential partner fears there might be something living in it.

The new research found women who were particularly squeamish about ticks, pubic lice and other hair-borne pests found bearded men less attractive. This was true regardless of whether the woman was looking for a short-term or long-term relationship.

In this new study, published Tuesday in the Royal Society Open Science Journal, very male and bearded faces were rated as more attractive than female-looking male or smooth-shaven faces.

Nature has programmed us on a deep, visceral level to be attracted to mates who show the most masculine and feminine qualities for reproduction.

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.

The Star reports that "in nearly all scenarios, the more facially masculine photos were rated as more attractive".

The team came up with a number of possible reasons why women might be naturally more attracted to bearded, masculine men.

In fact, men with masculine features such as a wide jaw and a strong forehead that had beards were most attractive to both types of relationships.

But not everyone was drawn to a hairy face.

A new study carried out by the University of Queensland in Australia found that the majority of women surveyed prefer men with beards.

Women who don't like hairy faces are put off by the possibility of them harbouring parasites like lice or fleas.

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".

The team says this indicates that women who prefer that clean-shaven look, are likely turned off by beards because they think they're filthy. It is also not clear whether the results would hold for gay men, or women of other sexual orientations.

That said, they do not represent a sign of cleanliness.

Christopher Watkins, from Abertay University, Dundee, an expert in social judgments of faces, who was not involved in the study, suggested further studies might explore whether men chose to cultivate facial hair if it were deemed sexier. "I've speculated that it could just be that (men with beards) look more mature and more likely to stick around".

Previous UK research tracking the popularity of beards between 1824 and 1971 showed men tended to sport facial hair at times when there was a greater proportion of single men competing for fewer women.

The women, who were between 18 and 70, were asked to look through the faces at various degrees of beard growth to determine the most attractive look.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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