Is there an advantage to having a beard?

Is there an advantage to having a beard?

This depends on how many beards there are about, and it looks like the UK has reached 'peak beard' which is bad news for hairy chins.

Asked by: Charlotte Tuttle, Chichester

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Yes, if you want to attract women, but only when beards are relatively rare. In Britain big beards are currently popular, but some say we have reached ‘peak beard’ and hairy chins will soon decline.

New research suggests that wearing a beard may be similar to what is known in biology as ‘negative frequency-dependent sexual selection’. This means that a rare trait is more attractive to the opposite sex than a common one. In biology this effect depends on genes but in the case of beards it depends on an idea: deciding to shave or not. In the experiments nearly 1,500 women and 200 men were shown photos of men with varying amounts of facial hair. When most of the photos were of clean-shaven men the women preferred the bearded ones, and vice versa.


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