The Grapevine

This Movember, Remember That Men With Beards Sway Toward 'Hostile Sexism'

beard
A new study has suggested an unfortunate side effect of having a long beard. Loren Kerns CC BY 2.0

A man’s facial hair may give clues to something other than his personal grooming regimen. According to a recent study, men with beards are more likely to exhibit “hostile sexism,” such as the idea that men are superior to women, than more smooth-faced men.

Beards come in and out of fashion nearly as often as presidential elections, but some men choose to retain their facial hair regardless of the current trend. Since facial hair is relatively easy to groom and completely remove, a recent study investigated what motivates some men to keep their beards. For the study, 223 men from the United States and 309 men from India completed an online survey to measure their views on sexism and their facial hair status.

After controlling for certain demographic variables, the results revealed men with facial hair were significantly high in hostile sexism than clean-shaven men. This association was so strong that the researchers found hostile sexism was more reliable than where a man lived in helping to predict whether or not he had facial hair. While the researchers could not outright ask these men involved why they choose to retain long beards, they predicted that for sexist men, growing facial hair “maximizes sexual dimorphism and augments perceived masculinity and dominance.”

This isn’t the first time negative personality traits have been linked to bearded men. A recent survey of British men conducted by research company Censuswide showed that men with longer facial hair are more likely to fight, cheat, and steal. However, despite these negative attributions, research has shown that time and again, women prefer bearded men over non-bearded men. According to one Australian study, a short beard is found to be overall most attractive, but men with full beards are perceived as better fathers who could “protect and invest in offspring,” the researchers explained, as reported by The Huffington Post.

Ultimately, though, preferences for facial hair are largely dependent on personal choices, as studies have shown that hairless and bearded faces are preferred by different groups. This month however, men across the world will adopt longer facial hair in honor of Movember, an 11-year-old global campaign that launched to encourage men to grow a moustache as a way to educate other men. According to Mashable, the Movember Foundation has raised more than $500 million dollars in 21 different countries, with money going to help research for male health concerns, such as prostate and testicular cancer.

Source: Dixson BK, Brooks RC. The role of facial hair in women's perceptions of men's attractiveness, health, masculinity and parenting abilities. Evolution & Human Behavior. 2015.

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