Beard Study: Women Dig Heavy Stubble

Go without shaving for ten days and bask in the glory of your stubbly self, men.

Bradley Cooper knows stubble.

Let it be known, guys: women like it rough. Your face, I mean. Geez.

According to a new study conducted by two University of New South Wales professors, Barnaby J. Dixson and Rob C. Brooks, women prefer men with heavy stubble over clean-shaven guys, guys with light stubble or full beards. So get your beard on, but … you know… not too much. (Note: 10 days of beard growth is considered “heavy stubble” in this study.) On the other hand, heterosexual dudes, when looking at other dudes, thought that a full beard or a heavy stubble looked best.

For the study, published in the May issue of the journal Evolution & Human Behavior, researchers showed photos of 10 smiling men to 177 heterosexual men and 351 women, who were then asked to rate the men by their looks. Each man’s facial hair was shown in four ways: clean-shaven, light stubble, heavy stubble, and full beard.

What does stubble have that a clean-shaven chin doesn’t? According to Dixson and Brooks, beardedness (or not) “affects judgments of male socio-sexual attributes.” In other words, the more bearded a guy is, the more masculine he’s perceived. A full beard indicates a readiness to father and protect offspring, and signals dominance and aggression—which is probably why guys like it so much. And by the same token, it makes sense that women would prefer just some stubble and not a full-blown beard: stubble signals masculinity, without being overly aggressive.

According to Dixson and Brooks, “Men, judging other men, might be sensitive to the overall level of masculine threat and aggression signaled through full beards. Women, by contrast, may balance … a competitive masculine partner against the costs of mating with a too-masculine partner.”

So much for what’s underneath the stubble.

Photo: s_bukley /