A new study carried out by the University of Queensland in Australia found that the majority of women surveyed prefer men with beards.
According to the Daily Star, the study, which was conducted on nearly 1,000 American women, determined that women preferred men with beards because it made the males appear more physically and socially dominant.
Women who prefer a clean shave were found to be opposed to parasites like lice and ticks.
The survey asked women between the ages of 18 and 70 about their feelings on facial hair and masculinity. Researchers showed the women photographs of three separate men with varying degrees of facial hair ranging from clean shaven to a full beard. The women were encouraged to rate the mens’ attractiveness on a scale from 0 to 100. Participants were also asked to rate the men based on their propensity to engage in either short- or long-term relationships based on their level of attraction.
The Star reports that “in almost all scenarios, the more facially masculine photos were rated as more attractive.”
University of Queensland Ph.D. student Tessa Clarkson suggested there were a variety of reasons for such an outcome.
Clarkson said that masculine faces signify physical strength and social dominance, and that facial hair only emphasizes such traits.
So wait, where do the bugs come in?
Throughout the study, researchers also showed participants photos of parasites and asked the women to rate their aversion to the pests.
The outlet reported that “women who showed fear over hair or skin-based parasites did not like those men with beards,” and suggested that the women correlated beards with poor grooming.
Dr. Barbaby Dixson, senior author of the study, determined that facial hair was at the center of a women’s physical inspection of a partner-suitable male, which impacted their ultimate decision to engage with a male on a short-term or long-term basis.
“We found women’s disgust towards ectoparasites — such as fleas that live on the skin — negatively affects preferences for men with beards,” Dixson said. “This could be due to the increased cultural trends for men and women to remove hair in more regions of the body including their faces, chests, arms, legs and pubic region.”
“This is the first study to provide evidence to support the ectoparasite avoidance hypothesis which argues that hairlessness evolved partly in response to parasite abundance to reduce the likelihood of hosting disease carrying parasites,” Dixson added.