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As We Enter #NoShaveNovember, A Reminder that, According Science, Chicks Dig Beards

By Dustin Rowles | Seriously Random Lists | November 1, 2014 | Comments ()


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I was reading a piece by Malcolm Gladwell on why during the interview process so many employers went after the same applicants, and found a one particular revelation fascinating. There was a study of something around 800 interviews where one test group rated applicants based on an entire interview, while another test group was only allowed to watch the first 20 seconds of the interview, where the applicant walked in the door and greeted the interviewers. Surprisingly, both focus groups rated the applicants’ qualities similarly, even though one group had only seen each applicant for less than half a minute.

The lesson here, of course, is that first impressions are crucial. Successful interviewees need to express confidence, friendliness, and intelligence immediately to have the best chance at a successful interview.

I’m a curious person, and after reading this piece, I began to wonder what physical characteristics by themselves might lead to the best impression, which led me toward a couple of studies on beards. If first impressions are that important in the interviewing process, certainly first impressions matter as much in the dating context, and in the dating context, how does facial hair factor in?

Apparently, it matters. Women develop perceptions of men based on the length (or absence) of facial hair, and those perceptions obviously factor into first impressions, and the scientific evidence leads me to conclude this: If you don’t have at least a little facial hair, you’re fucked. By which I mean: You’re chances of getting fucked are not as high.

Indeed, a study in the 1970s and another one three years ago come to similar conclusions: Women are more attracted to, and more likely to develop a long or short-term relationship with, men with light beards or stubble. They also find men with full beards more aggressive and mature, but also the least attractive. Men with no facial hair were rated the second-least attractive, but also least likely romantic partners.

In other words, a little facial hair goes a long way.

Science says it’s true, but what about anecdotally?


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Science suggests that women prefer the middle Clooney; they find the Clooney on right the least attractive; but would be more inclined toward having a relationship with the right Clooney than with the left Clooney.

True?

What about Brad Pitt?

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Or Matthew Fox?

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In the first and third images, even adjusting for image selection, the evidence seems to align with science. In Brad Pitt’s case, it’s a tougher case, although I think we can all rule out full-beard Brad Pitt.

The same is true of Ryan Gosling, I think.

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What about someone we’re less accustomed to seeing with a beard?

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Affleck presents a closer call between numbers one and two.

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Even accounting for image selection, this one is an easy call.

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So is this one. I’d even argue that this is one of those cases where even 3 is better than 1.

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Here, again, science wins.

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It’s even true of douchebags.

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And talk show hosts.

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And there you go, folks. That’s today’s lesson in science. And what have we learned? That science is always right.




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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not


  • red

    a light scruff does very nicely, thanks. Full on hipster is too over the top.

  • DataAngel

    Yes. Beards are good.

  • TacoBellRey

    One of the reasons I don't like Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey is because he looks so much better with the beard.

  • Danar the Barbarian

    This is also why Asian men get no love, on film as romantic leads, or in online dating. Ever seen 98% of Asian men's attempts at mustaches or beards? It's a patchy, mangy, scraggly mess. My Korean husband wishes he could grow something - anything - that made it beyond the mustache that kid in junior high was really proud of. No chest hair, no facial hair, but all man. You know what? Let's just keep the awesomeness of Asian men under wraps, mmmkay? Just in case I want another one someday!

  • For the most part agreed. However, My Vietnamese husband has a pretty good scruff-beard. Once it gets longer, it looks sparser, but the scruff is glorious.

  • BWeaves

    I think Asian men look hotter without facial hair. Their head hair can be amazing.

  • foca9

    Yesterday I went to some kind of science museum, and the age/sex/emotion recognition machine they had believed me to be 24 years old. I'm 21. I'll be keeping my beard.

  • Wigamer

    Just popping in to say--Jon Hamm. All of the ways.

  • cox

    as long as sexual attraction to beards go, my theory is that its a tug of war between "manliness" and "hygiene". you want a man who has enough testosterone to grow a beard, but the long unkept ones just look like they smell. like its curly, sweaty and has food in it. so we settle on the middle length option.

  • Jiffylush

    What I find funny (and fortunate) is that women seem to like guys that look a little older than they are while it is generally the opposite for men. My facial hair is pretty damn close to George Clooney's level of gray. It doesn't bother me and the women I have dated since I started growing a beard seem to like it a lot. I think it makes me look closer to 50 than I currently am at 40.

  • kirbyjay

    Mountainbeards? Not for me. They remind me of 70's porn bushes. ICK!!!

  • Zeus McGuinnes

    You forgot to add the stage between 1 and 2, aka the shaggy look. Which is the worst look of all.

  • lowercase_ryan

    and commenters

  • cox

    you are exception as you are cute in any stage of beard-ness.

  • DenG

    I do not like stubble or neck beards, and I perceive men with lots o' facial hair as incognito or interchangeable. My husband loves his 'stache and thankfully doesn't have a beard anymore. I like his unadorned face, but he doesn't complain about my head hair stylings, so I think we're OK.

  • e jerry powell

    Yeah, well, I dig beards more than chicks do. The beardier the better.

  • BWeaves

    That could be taken so many different ways.

  • e jerry powell

    Don't think I don't know...

    I grew up in the panhandle. If it hadn't been for married men, I wouldn't have had much of a sex life at all.

  • GratuitousSaxonViolins

    I notice you decided to avoid the whole Beiber argument.

  • **I AM** NotTheOne

    You have to go now...

    Security!!!!!

  • GratuitousSaxonViolins

    No! You can't stop the TRUTH!!!!

    Oww! Oww! Stop it! Let go. I've got a first amend...

  • **I AM** NotTheOne

    Pfft. Canadian riff raff. Who lets these people in?

  • kkirkpat

    I read your part of this exchange in my head in Lana's voice. It was glorious.

  • BWeaves

    Darling husband is much better with a mustache and short beard. I don't like the scratchiness of it, but he has no chin, so it gives him a jawline.

  • Jae

    Yeah, no beard on my guy thankyouverymuch. For me anything beyond the lightest of stubble makes the guy... well, not exactly ugly, but a hard pass.

  • eag46

    I must be the statistical anomaly. I prefer neither beard nor stubble.

  • BobbFrapples

    One of my friends saw this in action. He has a baby face making him look like a perpetual prepubescent even though he's 6'4. It was really hard for him to coax his face to grow a beard, but his dating levels have skyrocketed now that his two years of patience have paid off.

  • TheAggroCraig

    I shaved my last for my Halloween costume, see you when the snow melts, razor.

  • Mrs. Julien

    I keep seeing young men with beards. I am so happy they are coming back into fashion.

  • Benny Gesserit

    My mustache & beard started to grow in when I turned 15. The mustache has always been present ever since and there's been a beard in some form every since. (No, I never, EVER, got carded.)

    I also silently feel men who can't grow facial hair are a little ... suspect.

  • When I shave, there is generally at best, a 12 hour window between picture 1 and picture 2 and within about 30-36 hours, I'm back to picture 3. It looks kind of like the lap dissolve of Lon Chaney turning into the Wolfman.

    Right now because it's getting cold, I'm rocking a full-on Duck Dynasty beard and then 'round about May or so, I'll trim it back down.

  • Robert Sanchez III

    I envy you and your glorious beard. I can only grow the Johnny Depp thing.

  • heittskomm

    I think light beards/stubble just makes you look more mature, not necessarily more attractive. Dudes who never shave make me wonder if the foundation is structurally sound. Also facial rug burn is not pleasant.

  • Fabius_Maximus

    It's all about hitting the sweet spot. I try to keep my beard about 1 cm long and it feels soft. Any shorter and it's spiky. Any longer and it's wiry.

  • foolsage

    Careful trimming is key to beard maintenance.

  • Alexander

    Well that's good for me I suppose since I have an almost constant stubble due to the fact that my skin is the more sensitive type and if I attempt to shave everyday it becomes a very bloody and painful affair. I need to have at the very least a three-four day beard before I shave it off even if I use super duper razors.

    I wish science would develop a super fast and easy to process to permanently remove body hair

  • Jiffylush

    Why not just let it grow out and trim it with a #2? You might still need to shave your neck but that is optional imho.

  • Alexander

    I wish but my face looks much much better without a beard

  • foolsage

    There are some good electric razors out there that work well for sensitive skin. It takes a couple of weeks to adjust to them, or it did for me back when I switched over (quite a while back). You can also find good lightly-scented lotions for use after shaving, which help your skin adjust to the trauma.

  • BWeaves

    Lasers! But only if your hair is dark. It doesn't work on blond or white hair.

    Or waxing. Don't got there.

  • Alexander

    I thought about laser but when I read about the possibility of lasering off your beard permanently it apparently requires several months of procedures and it costs a lot of money. Doesn't waxing hurt like a lot?

  • BWeaves

    Yup. Hurts like hell. You're ripping the hair out by the roots.

  • Jiffylush

    As a man I can say that waxing your back hurts and it is far less sensitive than your face. I would imagine it would be extremely painful and probably a little bloody.

  • emmalita

    Yes, it does.

  • **I AM** NotTheOne

    Men shouldn't be allowed to go around with their faces naked all the time.

  • Sirilicious

    Never go full beard.

  • This message has been brought to you by Katie Holmes and Nicole Kidman.

  • Sirilicious

    It´s true in all the ways.

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