SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – A new study by researchers in Australia says that women prefer men with a lot of stubble. The clean shaven look and men with full beards were no match for about 10 days growth of facial hair.
The study was published in the May issue of the Journal Evolution & Human Behavior. Photos of ten smiling men in various shades of beard growth were presented to 177 heterosexual men and 351 women. The photos showed men with a freshly shaved face, light stubble ( 5 days of growth) and heavy stubble ( 10 days of growth ) and a full beard.
Each man in the photos was shown in four ways — clean-shaven, with five days of beard growth (light stubble), 10 days of growth (heavy stubble), and with a full beard.
Women rated the men in the photos according to their attractiveness. Heavy stubble was the clear winner among women.
From the study, “Women judged faces with heavy stubble as most attractive and heavy beards, light stubble and clean-shaven faces as similarly less attractive. In contrast, men rated full beards and heavy stubble as most attractive, followed closely by clean-shaven and light stubble as least attractive. Men and women rated full beards highest for parenting ability and healthiness. Masculinity ratings increased linearly as facial hair increased, and this effect was more pronounced in women in the fertile phase of the menstrual cycle, although attractiveness ratings did not differ according to fertility.
Our findings confirm that beardedness affects judgments of male socio-sexual attributes and suggest that an intermediate level of beardedness is most attractive while full-bearded men may be perceived as better fathers who could protect and invest in offspring.”
The researchers hypothesize that facial hair makes men seem more mature and masculine.
Full study: EHBOnline.org