According to psychologists, this phenomena poses multiple interconnected concerns, including: are these men simply following one other; what effect does a beard have on a man's attractiveness; does it make him appear more masculine; and, given the responses to the above, should I grow one as well? That last question, though, may only apply to male psychologists. In any case, we present the newest in our world-famous series of special features: the psychology of beards, digested, to help you resolve these concerns.
One popular belief holds that men's beards are an accessory, similar to a peacock's tail, that enhances their attractiveness, particularly to the opposite sex. However, the evidence on whether guys with beards are more appealing is mixed.
In a 1973 study, undergrads rated men's looks and found that bearded males were thought to be more attractive (not to mention more masculine, mature, dominant, self-confident, courageous, liberal, nonconforming, industrious, and older). You may argue that this was the hairy 1970s, but a study released this month in Archives of Sexual Behaviour found that hundreds of women recruited online consistently evaluated bearded males as more sexually appealing than their clean-shaven counterparts, regardless of beard length.
But male readers, before you bin your razor, consider that another study from 1991, involving undergrads doing the rating, found that clean-shaven men were seen as "younger, more attractive, and more sociable" than the beardies, while another paper out this year found that "there was no main effect of facial hair growth on ratings of attractiveness".
It's clear that beard makes you look more handsome and more macho, but doesn't mean you should feel bad without a beard.
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