When psychologists in New South Wales released a study last spring declaring facial hair to be unattractive to the opposite sex, beard supporters were skeptical. The study asked a group of women to rate the attractiveness of men who had just shaved, and then rate them again after a month and a half of growth, with no trimming allowed. Unkempt, tangled overgrowth lost to clean-shaven by a hair.
Now, in a new study published in Evolution and Human Behavior, researchers Barnaby Dixson and Robert Brooks have taken a closer look at the data and found that a middle ground exists between the two extremes. Dixson and Brooks showed women four stages of growth: clean-shaven, light stubble, heavy stubble, and full beard. This time, the middle ground won out, with women finding heavy stubble the most attractive.
Women judged faces with heavy stubble as most attractive and heavy beards, light stubble and clean-shaven faces as similarly less attractive. In contrast, men rated full beards and heavy stubble as most attractive, followed closely by clean-shaven and light stubble as least attractive.
So there you have it. Supporters of stubble need not hide in the shadows any longer. Just keep your business trim.