A recent study into what makes men more attractive to women turned up a surprising answer. But even with science backing up the results, the findings are very controversial.
Research at Australia’s University of Queensland lead to two discoveries, one more surprising than the other.
First: facial hair makes men more attractive to women. Second: bearded men also make for better boyfriends.
The study, which was published in the Journal of Evolutionary Biology, surveyed more than 8,500 women, who ranked men with and without facial.
The key to the survey’s strange outcome is that the women ranked these men based on their attractiveness, but also "relationship longevity," as in which looked to be boyfriend material from their photos.
Here’s the catch: researchers used images of the same men at different stages of beard growth - light stubble, heavy stubble, and full beards - for the study.
Certain images in the study were also edited, changing the men’s jawlines or cheekbones to make them look "more masculine."
The bearded or more masculine edited images always ranked higher in attractiveness than the clean-shaven or unedited ones.
Meanwhile, women in the study picked men without beards or with light stubble as "casual relationship" partners, while the bearded ones were thought to be better long-term relationship material (meaning someone you would want to settle down with).
As the paper summed up, "Results showed a significant interaction between beardedness and masculinity on attractiveness ratings."
"Male-typical facial features such as a pronounced brow ridge and a more robust jawline may signal underlying health," the researchers explained, "whereas beards may signal men’s age and masculine social dominance."
They also guessed that beards could represent "a male’s ability to successfully compete socially with other males for resources," which explained why bearded men ranked higher for serious relationships.
When it comes to what women like best, the subjects showed a preference for "heavy stubble," followed by full beards and then light stubble in second and third place.