Everyone knows all jokes about beards are hilarious and that talking about hipsters will never go out of style, but what about the beards themselves? Will we, someday soon perchance, collectively turn our backs on this brand new fashion trend wherein male humans allow the natural growth of hair on their faces as opposed to scraping it off every day with a meat hook like some sort of perverted butcher? Probably! At least according to a study done by a team of Australian researchers from the University of New South Wales.
As the study suggests, when there is a scarcity of beards among the population in general, men with beards tend to stand out, and their grooming choices make them seem more attractive to potential mates. When things start to shift and everyone has a beard, the abundance reduces our attraction. It’s an idea called negative frequency-dependent preferences.
The study explains:
We first showed participants a suite of faces, within which we manipulated the frequency of beard thicknesses and then measured preferences for four standard levels of beardedness. Women and men judged heavy stubble and full beards more attractive when presented in treatments where beards were rare than when they were common, with intermediate preferences when intermediate frequencies of beardedness were presented. Likewise, clean-shaven faces were least attractive when clean-shaven faces were most common and more attractive when rare. This pattern in preferences is consistent with negative frequency-dependent selection.
Speaking to the Guardian Australia, researcher Robert Brooks broke it down in clearer terms:
“There is a lot of faddishness with beards, they are on the way back and it’s interesting to look at that interaction with culture,” he said.
“It appears that beards gain an advantage when rare, but when they are in fashion and common, they are declared trendy and that attractiveness is over.”
Let’s make this really simple: Do you want to suck on my face fur or not?
Either way, Brooks admits, no one really knows what the point of beards are in the first place.
“We still don’t really know the primary function of the beard,” Brooks said. “Some women are attracted to it, some are repelled. It is clear it is a sign of manliness, it makes men look older and also more aggressive. How much women like that depends, in a way, on how overtly masculine they like their men.”
At the very least we can all soon look forward to a new set of guidelines for our awesome hipster jokes. smh at these fricking hipsters with their smooth jowls. Only in Brooklyn am I right?