A new study finds that while men with facial hair seem to earn higher respect from other men, women find them significantly less attractive, the Daily Mail reported on Tuesday.
The study, reported in Behavioral Ecology, used pictures of 19 men in normal poses and making angry faces, both with full beards (greater than six weeks of growth with no trimming) and without facial hair, to determine how the men were perceived.
The photos of the men – who were from New Zealand and Samoa – were then shown to more than 200 women (also from New Zealand and Samoa) who were asked to rate the men´s attractiveness.
The women rated the clean-shaven men significantly more attractive, and said the men with beards appeared older and more aggressive, the study found.
The researchers then showed the pictures to other men, who said the men with beards displaying an aggressive facial expression appeared older and angrier than the same men when clean-shaven.
However, both sexes said that facial hair added gravitas, with the bearded men perceived to have a higher social status and commanding more respect from other men.
The results of the study suggest that beards send a signal of masculinity to other men, while doing little to attract women.
“The beard appears to augment the effectiveness of human aggressive facial displays,” the researchers said.
“These results are consistent with the hypothesis that the human beard evolved primarily via intrasexual selection between males and as part of complex facial communication signaling status and aggressiveness,” they concluded.
Given that a man with a full, six-week beard will look entirely different than one with a few days or even a couple of weeks of stubble, men with facial hair shouldn´t rush to shave it all off just yet. In fact, previous research suggests that men with light stubble actually draw the most favorable response from women, the paper reported.
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