A new study by Rob Brooks in Biology Letters shows that the attractiveness of men with facial hair varies according to the frequency of bearded men. The same bearded face is rated as more attractive when shown alongside faces which tend to be clean-shaven compared with when shown alongside the same faces that tend to be bearded - if this translates to real life (and why wouldn't it?) this is an example of frequency-dependent sexual selection. He comments in the Telegraph that the recent increase in beardedness means we may be reaching 'peak beard'. Unfortunately Keith Flett, in the same Telegraph article, misses the point in dismissing the study - the findings would be unaffected by differences in why individual men wear beards. Mine, for example, is part of a cunning strategic aim to look 'more professorial', but if it makes me more attractive that's a definite bonus.
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