Feeds

10-day stubble: Men's 'socio-sexual attributes' at their best

Clean shaven? Nope. Full beard? Uh-uh. Crockett had it down

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

Science can plumb the mysteries of the universe, cure disease, and reveal the origins of man – but can it provide insight into the age-old mystery that troubles every man, namely: What Do Women Want?

Yes it can, dear Reg reader, yes it can.

According to research conducted at the Evolution & Ecology Research Centre of Sydney's University of New South Wales, women find men with 10-day's worth of unshaven stubble to be at their peak of attractiveness.

The results of the study, published in the prestigious Evolution & Human Behavior, can be summarized thusly: "Our findings confirm that beardedness affects judgments of male socio-sexual attributes and suggest that an intermediate level of beardedness is most attractive."

In pursuit of this critical conclusion, researchers Barnaby Dixson and Robert Brooks enlisted 10 men as subjects, and photographed them clean-shaven, with five-day and 10-day stubble, and finally with a full, well-trimmed beard. Those photos were then showed to 351 women and 177 men – heterosexuals all – who were asked to rate the subjects on four perceived criteria: attractiveness, health, masculinity, and parenting abilities.

The results? By a strong margin, women found the images of men with a 10-day, heavy stubble the most attractive, with the other three beard levels being, in Dixson and Brooks' words, "similarly less attractive." Men, however, found both the heavily stubbled and fully bearded photos of essentially equal attractiveness. Least attractive to both women and men: light, 5-day stubble.

Heavy stubble didn't sweep the field, however. In their perceptions of health, masculinity, and parenting skills, the bearded photos won the day among both men and women – although the heavy-stubble faces were a close second in each of those categories, and essentially tied with clean-shaven in the health category.

Clean-shaven, however, fared poorly among women in the masculinity category, who placed those photos at the bottom of that scale. In fact, the more facial hair that each photo displayed, the higher it scored on the masculinity scale – and that held true for both men and women.

Being cautious social scientists, Dixson and Brooks also queried the women as to where they were in their menstrual cycle and if they were using hormonal contraceptives, in an effort to determine whether those hormonal changes might skew results.

Interestingly, when women were asked for their opinions during the fertile phase of their menstrual cycle, there was no change in their perceptions of attractiveness, but they did tend to rate men as being more masculine.

I will let you, dear reader, take your own conclusions from the academic paper, entitled "The role of facial hair in women's perceptions of men's attractiveness, health, masculinity and parenting abilities". Your Reg reporter – a fair-skinned, formerly flaxen-haired, Northern European type who has never been able to grow more than a wisp of a beard – has been left with a heavy heart by Dixson and Brooks' findings. ®

The Power of One Infographic

More from The Register

next story
World Solar Challenge contender claims new speed record
One charge sees Sunswift travel 500kms at over 100 km/h
SMELL YOU LATER, LOSERS – Dumbo tells rats, dogs... humans
Junk in the trunk? That's what people have
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
Beancounters tell NASA it's too poor to fly planned mega-rocket
Space Launch System would need another $400m and a lot of time
Bad back? Show some spine and stop popping paracetamol
Study finds common pain-killer doesn't reduce pain or shorten recovery
Forty-five years ago: FOOTPRINTS FOUND ON MOON
NASA won't be back any time soon, sadly
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.