To say that beards have had their ups and downs would be a huge understatement. During the course of history, beards have been on a real roller-coaster. According to The Effects of Facial Hair on Perception Formation, in ancient Egypt, only the poor used to have facial hair. When it comes to Europe, the perception of beards shifted during the course of several centuries. At one point, only the nobility were allowed to have them and those belonging to lower social and economic classes were forced to ‘take them off’. Minds were changed throughout history, and in the 18th century, beards were “viewed as an option only for people that are old, mad, or clueless”. At times, it even went so far as to signify low morality or even a criminal history. By the end of the 18th century, the verdict was in and beards were cool again, and rocked by such historic figures as American president Lincoln and even Harvard boasted the fact that all enrolled men had them. The rest is history, or better yet, present, because it seems to us, living in this time, that beards have never been more popular than today. Whether you’re a hipster, an artist, a physician – there is no stigma around the amount or style of your facial hair, but what does your beard specifically convey? That is a question we’ll be answering today.

Hello there handsome

The same paper, which used numerous renowned studies as its sources, reveals that there is a strong correlation between beardedness and levels of not only attractiveness and masculinity, but also health and even the ability to make a good husband and father. Translation – bearded men are perceived as ones who have all the qualities a typical woman could ever want in a man. Not only do they look sexy, but also a tad or a lot rugged, capable, reliable and even sexually competent and fertile, which makes them perfect husband and father material. The level of attractiveness is so high that, in fact, bearded men are more likely to ‘get the girl’ than clean-shaven men. On top of all this, beards also convey trustworthiness and it’s a life fact that relationships are built on trust, so there go additional points to bearded men. The only noted downside is that bearded men are perceived as less groomed and dirtier, which could be a repelling factor, but as we all know, the bearded men of today are highly diligent when it comes to grooming – resorting to special shampoos, opting for chemical peel, using conditioners, balms and oils, so perhaps this theory no longer applies as bearded men are actually now more inclined towards grooming than others.

A second opinion

Of course, there are other studies which the paper cited that actually show a negative correlation between beardedness and masculinity. Namely, according to the findings of Dixson and Vasey, bearded men were associated with aging and loss of sexual competency, as well as an increased level of aggression in comparison to clean-shaven men.

More good news

There used to exist a common misconception that bearded men signified rebelliousness and lack of responsibility, but the aforementioned paper cites studies that came to a conclusion that this could not be farther from the truth. In fact, as beards have immensely become associated with kindness and trustworthiness, employers have become increasingly keen on hiring bearded men. The paper states something about profile pictures on platforms such as LinkedIn and the fact that bearded men are a lot more likely to be called for a job interview and actually land a job. Reportedly ‘Bearded men are ranked higher by possible employers in categories that are important in the workplace, such as competency, composure and personality’ as well as expertise and maturity, especially in occupations related to sales and communication with clients and customers as sales highly depend on the level of trust a client or buyer places in the hands of the seller. 

However, an interesting piece of information is that most men in high managerial and CEO positions are clean-shaven men. This is presumably due to the fact that bearded fellas are perceived as more suited for jobs that require less social interaction and aren’t as creative and ‘entrepreneurial’ as shaven men. This is sort of contradicts the study that states that bearded men are generally perceived as more aggressive – which in business terms translates as assertive, but the evidence is still inconclusive, so let’s just say that for now, bearded men will get the job done, but perhaps won’t land a managerial position.

Psychology of fashion

Finally – the mustachedness

Even though they get masculinity points for actually being able to grow any kind of facial hair, when it comes to the level of attractiveness, men with mustaches are way lower on the scale compared to bearded men, as according to the paper, “mustachedness is predicted to have a negative correlation between intelligence and attractiveness due to a stigma that has formed against mustaches and how they are the “mark of the beast.” Goatees are safe, in a way, but they are kind of passé, so if you want facial hair, either go big or go home.

The sad news– at least for beardless men – is that in this climate, they are definitely perceived as less intelligent, rugged and attractive, but trends come and go, so perhaps the American Psycho clean and sleek look will come back in style once again. For now, dear men, groom those beards and get those girls.  

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Claire Hastings is a design student and a psychology freshmen from Australia. She been writing for as long as she can remember, and tries to make a symbiosis of all her interests through her writing pieces.

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