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Men with beards not more attractive to women

Nadine Bells
Shine On
March 12, 2012
(Ryan Gosling and Brad Pitt)
(Ryan Gosling and Brad Pitt)

It's a study that can't help but be written about without accompanying photos of a scruffy Ryan Gosling or bearded Brad Pitt: Researchers are claiming that beards aren't attractive to women.

"Women…do not rate bearded faces as more attractive than clean-shaven faces," researchers Paul Vasey of the University of Lethbridge and Barnaby Dixson of New Zealand's Victoria University of Wellington wrote in the journal Behavioral Ecology.

Women everywhere aren't sure if they agree. And men everywhere are likely ignoring science on this one.

The researchers showed two mixed-gender test groups pictures of the same 19 men, with and without full beards, in neutral, happy and angry expressions. Both men and women found that the bearded faces looked older and more aggressive than the clean-shaven ones, as did they appear to signify higher social status.

[See also: Why you shouldn't use a man's razor]

The beards did help men get respect — from other men. Unfortunately for the Grizzly Adams types out there, women found the clean-shaven faces more attractive than the bearded ones.

"Taken together this research suggests that the beard did not evolve because women prefer male mates with beards. Rather, the results are consistent with the conclusion that beards evolved because they signal a male's age, status and augment displays of aggressiveness, all of which would have been helpful in repelling rival males in mating context," Vasey said in an email to Global News.

Interesting tidbit: Nick Neave, a Northumbria University psychologist, found in his research that what women actually want is a man with light stubble:

"It was almost as if women preferred a men who could grow a beard but hadn't."

GOOD's Amanda Hess debunks the research with her typical hilarity, arguing that the study's test subjects were not from areas or cultures in which beards are typically worn, nor were the bearded men sporting trimmed facial hair — it was unruly "unmitigated beard growth."

Hess proposed that blogs covering the study should have the following headline:

"Psychologists confirm: Women are simply not very attracted to 19 specific dudes, but are slightly more attracted to them when they do not have weird beards all over their faces. Just trim them! And do not grow a soul patch. Ever."

What do you think, ladies? Do you find men more attractive with or without beards? Or are you in the light-stubble-loving majority?

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