Women's Fear of Parasites Could Have Led to Humans Developing Less Hair

However, women in general still prefer a bearded man, as per the study.
Fabienne Lang

There's been a long-lasting question and debate among the females of this planet: do women prefer men with or without beards? 

Now, a study has proven that women, in general, do lean more towards a man with a beard. However, there are a number of women who prefer a clean-shaven man, and that due to past women's squeamishness towards hair-borne parasites, we humans developed to be less hairy.


Why do women prefer men with beards?

According to the study that quizzed approximately 1,000 women across the U.S., women are more attracted to bearded men as they appear more physically and socially dominant.

That said, they do not represent a sign of cleanliness. The study deduced that women who weren't as attracted to hairy faces may be so inclined due to an evolutionary fear and disgust that they may have lice or fleas. 

Uncoincidentally, the women who prefer a smooth male face were more revolted by parasites and pests such as ticks and lice.

The researchers showed images of bearded and non-bearded men to 1,000 women. Each man had varying degrees of masculinity, with some of the images being touched up to appear more, or less, masculine. Photos of parasites and pests were also shown to the women.

In general, the images that were deemed the most attractive were of men with beards, and strong masculine faces — solid jawlines and high cheekbones. 

And for those women who were more afraid or put off by the parasite images, their tendency was more toward clean-shaven men.

Why are women more attracted to strong masculine features?

Lead researcher of the study, Tessa Clarkson, suggested there could be a raft of reasons behind these preferences. One such reason could be that facial hair highlights feature on the face, all while masking unattractive ones. 

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What was interesting in the study's findings is how women who were afraid of parasites and pests found facial hair less attractive. 

Evolutionarily-speaking, humans have developed to have less hair over time so as to minimize the risk of catching or carrying hair-borne parasites or diseases. 

The direct link to facial hair and women who fear parasites is a clear one here. 

The study was published in the journal Royal Society Open Science.

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