According to a recent study, women prefer men with a 10-day beard over a clean-shaven face.
The study was conducted by researchers from University of New South Wales who found that both men and women rated men with beards as more attractive and as people with high parenting ability. However, when it comes to clean-shaven faces, men and women fixed different levels of attractiveness; for women rated them the lowest, while men rated them just above men who had a light stubble.
"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 wrote.
The study included 351 heterosexual women and 177 heterosexual men who were shown photographs of 10 men at different stages of facial hair growth - from clean-shaven to a five-day "light" stubble, 10-day "heavy" stubble (shown), and fully bearded. Study participants had to rate men based on health, attractiveness, masculinity and parenting ability, Science reported.
Researchers also accounted for women's intake of birth control pills and menstrual cycle, which may affect their preference.
The findings aren't entirely novel though. Back in 2008, a study from the U.K. had shown that women rated men with a stubble as tough, masculine, aggressive and ideal romantic partners for both short- and long-term affairs.
Another study of women from two ethnic groups showed that beards augment the perception of men's age and status, and that beards made men look more aggressive.
The study is published in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior.
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