They used to be seen as highly attractive and a symbol of
masculinity, but new research has found the beard may have fallen
out of favour.
Wellington anthropologist Barnaby Dixson has published his doctoral thesis on the significance of the beard, and whether old theories about their evolution still hold true.
Charles Darwin said that men evolved beards as a result of sexual selection - theorising that women chose a partner based on a man's facial fur.
But Dixson found that the ability of a beard to attract women and scare off rivals may not be as strong in the 21st century.
The findings may be unwelcome reading for famous beardies like Brad Pitt, Piri Weepu, Willie Apiata, Liam Finn, Daniel Vettori, Leonardo DiCaprio, Billy Connelly and the Christchurch wizard.
Dixson's study tested the responses of 200 modern women from different ethnic backgrounds to pictures of a group of men with beards, and the same men without beards.
The women said that they found the men more attractive when they were clean shaven, but the findings also revealed bearded men were thought of as more socially dominant.
Both men and women looking at the photos also said faces with full beards looked older and angrier.
Dixson said the result stacks up against traditional theories about beards, as it shows facial hair can make people look more aggressive - a trait which would have traditionally been attractive to partners.
Published: 9:19PM Wednesday March 07, 2012 Source: ONE News