New research finds that women will form a personal opinion about men based on how much hair he has on his face.
Investigators from the University of Queensland in Australia asked 8,520 women to view computerized, manipulated images of men who displayed various stages of facial hair — clean-shaven, light stubble, heavy stubble, and full beards, with additional differences in brow ridge, cheekbones, and jawline. The females were asked to rate the attractiveness of these men.
The results, which were published in the Journal of Evolutionary Biology, are as follows:
- Stubble was judged as most attractive overall and received the highest marks for a short-term relationship.
- A full beard was more attractive in terms of a committed partner, “as a signal of intrasexual formidability and the potential to provide direct benefits to females.”
- Extremely masculine (images morphed where the men had narrower eyes, thicker and straighter brows, a thicker nasal bridge with narrower nostrils, less pronounced cheekbones, a narrower mouth and a larger, and a squarer jaw and chin) and extremely feminine-looking males (where these characteristics were diminished) were least attractive.
“Sexual selection via female choice has shaped the evolution of male ornamentation in many species,” stated the study authors in a press release.
‘I’m not surprised at all with these findings,” Stacy Kaiser, licensed psychotherapist, relationship expert, and author of How to Be a Grown Up: The Ten Secret Skills Everyone Needs to Know, tells Yahoo Beauty. “They go with my experience as a clinician and as a woman.”
She explains that because females deem a man’s stubble as “masculine, rugged, and sexy,” they will interpret his five o’clock shadow to mean he’s a guy who’s only in search of a fleeting romance.
“When we think of that kind of sexiness and passion, it does not translate into long-term thoughts or feelings,” states Kaiser.
However, extra facial hair is interpreted as extra safe.
“On the flip side, a man with a full beard is viewed as stable and fatherly, which makes us women think more about long-term relationships and greater security,” she added.
And this isn’t the first study to draw these conclusions. Psychology Today reported on two previous papers that found similar results, where one research group asked the men to evaluate their own appearance. The guys considered a full beard to be as appealing as heavy stubble, and reported a greater feeling of masculinity as facial hair increased.
The author, Jeremy Nicholson — who also goes by the name the Attraction Doctor — concluded by reminding men that not all women think alike.
“There is a contingent of women who do not care for men’s facial hair at all, so for men committed to smooth cheeks, there’s certainly someone out there for you, too,” he wrote. “But fundamentally, as with other mating cures, women’s preferences in men are often linked to the type of relationship and gender dynamic they want. By changing his facial hair, a guy may be more likely to attract the type of relationship partner he seeks.”