The Psychology of Beards — By Whiskers
If you’re having trouble telling men from women, here’s a clue. Men are the ones with hair sprouting from their faces (alright more hair sprouting from their faces). Some men attempt to cover up the effect of all those androgens by shaving off their beards. Others prefer to send out manly signals in all directions (well, either that or they can’t be bothered to shave).
Who is right? What signal does the beard really send? Here are four very important
beard related facts that every man, woman and child should know.
1. Beards increase age, social status and aggressiveness
A study found that European women from New Zealand and Samoan Polynesians both thought that men with beards looked older and that they looked of higher social status.
On top of this, when men look angry and have a beard, they look even angrier than clean-shaven men.
Why not test this out by poking a bearded man with a stick. How angry does he look? Make sure to note down your results before being knocked unconscious. Science is important.
2. Beards keep you warm in winters
As the temperature drops, your beard is there to keep you warm. Having facial hair of any kind acts as a barrier of protection — especially in winter months.
When we’re talking about wind and cold weather chapping of the skin, it acts as thermal protection as well as physical protection against the elements.
3. Bearded men are good with babies…
…or at least that’s women’s perception according to a study. This is a little mysterious given that beards are associated with masculinity and very masculine men are, on average, less likely to be good long-term bets.
But perhaps the beard as ‘good-daddy-signal’ operates through other variables. Because men with beards look older and of higher social status, they are more likely to be able to provide for their offspring.
Or it could be, as Dixson and Vasey say, that it’s because they used pictures of bearded men who were smiling and this is a strangely potent combination.
Like a cage fighter baking a cake. Or a fireman writing a poem. You get the picture.
4. Beards are a disadvantage in a fight
Finally, let’s take an evolutionary perspective on the beard. What signal does it send? Is it costly to produce in some way and therefore an ancient signal of good genes? Perhaps.
Like a lion’s mane, beards may be a way of showing off. Since one man can easily grab another’s beard in a fight, they could be a disadvantage. So, any man with a long beard is saying: “I’m so good in a fight that even grabbing on to this beard won’t help you!”
I’m not totally convinced by this argument, although the thought of men fighting by grabbing each other’s beards is inherently funny. You really don’t see enough beard-fights in movies nowadays do you?