Apparently not, according to a group of researchers from the University of Queensland, Charles Sturt University and the University of New South Wales, who studied how 8500 women responded to images of clean shaven, stubbly and full-bearded men.
“The idea behind the research was to find out how beards affect male attractiveness to females in long term relationships versus short term relationships,” researcher Dr Danielle Sulikowski told.
The women were shown four photographs of 16 different men, all at different stages of beard growth and asked which they found the most attractive for a short term relationship.
“There were four different stages — clean shaven, five days growth, 10 days growth and a full beard,” Dr Sulikowski said.
“Stubble was considered the most attractive — more attractive than beards and more attractive than a clean shaven face — but men with beards were considered more attractive than clean shaven men.”
The study also measured what types of faces women find the most appealing. The four photographs of each man were digitally manipulated to look more or less masculine.
Women were asked which they preferred and while the data shows most prefer a guy somewhere in the middle of very masculine and very feminine, Dr Sulikowski says that oversimplifies the raw results.
“It’s not because everyone preferences the ‘in the middle’ guys, it’s because some women have a strong preference for masculine features and some women have a strong preference for feminine features, so when the data evens out you get that medium results.”
The one case in which a full beard was just as attractive as stubble, was when women were contemplating the men as a potential long term partner, like a father or a husband.
“Our findings suggest that beardedness may be attractive when judging long-term relationships as a signal of intrasexual formidability and the potential to provide direct benefits to females,” the study states.
Dr Sulikowski says this could be because beards tend to be associated with stereotypical male qualities such as strength, stability and power.
“In other studies, we know that men view other men who have beards as quite dominant, more mature and high ranking, so we know that a full beard can become a sort of status symbol,” she said.
The study was published the Journal of Evolutionary Biology