To beard or not to beard? Amid much contradictory research, a group of psychologists was determined to find out once and for all whether women prefer the scruffy look. Turns out they don't, the New Zealand and Canadian researchers discovered. They showed 200 women from New Zealand and Samoa pictures of 19 men from the same countries with full beards, then pictures of those men after shaving—two shots were taken in each case, one normal, and one in which the man was instructed to look angry.
Regardless of home country, the women strongly preferred the clean-shaven men, reports the Daily Mail, which notes that the inclusion of Samoan participants is meaningful, because that country is less swayed by Western styles and trends. It's possible, notes a researcher, that beards are meant not to attract women, but to "fend off other males." Perhaps that makes sense: Males described the bearded men as older and tougher.