Beard Psychology - What Does Your Beard Say About You?

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Beard Psychology

Real Bearded Men looks into the psychology behind beards – what they say about you and how you can be perceived by others. Beards send out a variety of signals – some quite conflicting – but one thing is for sure: if you have a beard, whatever the style or length, people around you will notice it and base many of their first impressions of you on those hairy whiskers. Some of those impressions may be subconscious but for sure degrees of macho manliness, sexual appeal, long term partnership material and health considerations all have a bearing on your whiskered image.

So let’s have a look at what your beard might be telling others about you…


Beard Masculinity: The Macho, Dominant Alpha Male 

Beards heighten the sense of perceived age, social status and aggressiveness in the observer and those with facial hair are often seen as having a more manly persona. In general we agree that the look of masculinity a full beard gives its wearer is much harder to achieve without the whiskers, so yes, a beard does make you look more macho. Theorists concur that having a beard was part of an evolutionary development to show dominant survival-of-the-fittest traits, and certainly an angry bearded man is proven to look much more menacing than a clean shaven one when riled.

Beard Masculinity The Macho, Dominant Alpha Male

But in the modern day climate what else can we learn from the bearded fraternity? Because these days it’s not quite so cut-and-dried as that; there are other factors to consider too in terms of Alpha Male one-upmanship.

In some studies, bearded men are shown as not only masculine and dominant but also kind, courageous, trustworthy, generous, hard working and more attractive, especially when their character comes across as quietly confident in their approach to life. These indicators can vary according to cultural and social environments, and where there is competition to attract a mate it is common for beards to be in abundance. Is this solely for the purposes of sexual appeal, or to show a dominance to ward off rival suitors? Research indicates that women perceive those with full beards as more likely to be better providers for, and protectors of, families (more on this later) so perhaps a combination of subconscious appeal and masculinity go hand in hand for the opposite sex.

Conversely, there is also evidence to support that beards and masculinity are not always such great partners in crime! The indication that a beard results in an older, more mature look can also lead to the appearance of aging and therefore a lowered sexual drive, and in these circumstances a clean shaven man may win hands down in the attractiveness stakes.

When it comes down to naked aggression, the evolutionary stance certainly comes back into play with the full beard being perceived as a sign of dominance and hostility, and brandishing such a hairy display could easily be compared to a male lion advertising its authority through looks alone. Just don’t let your fighting opponent get a handle on it though, or you could become the prey rather than the power!

Let’s not forget that the world, with its many cultures, varies its image of masculinity and also in itself it is an evolving concept. Therefore the beard should also evolve to encompass a truly macho image if that’s what you’re aiming for.


Beard Attractiveness: The Short-term Sexual Allure and Desirability 

Does a facial mane make you more desirable and sexy? It’s a proven fact that sporting a beard can have a significant effect on the opposite sex, or the same sex if you’re gay, often exuding oodles of sex appeal. Both sexes consider beards make the wearer appear more macho; a more mature, self-assured character (regardless of actual age) combined with a generous spirit.

Beard Attractiveness The Short-term Sexual Allure and Desirability

Potential short term partners, especially females, are particularly attracted to those who sport longer stubble, closely followed by short stubble. The slightly rough, no-time-for-the-razor, just-got-out-of-bed look seems to be the allure for many looking for a partner without long term commitment. Gay men appear to be attracted by thicker, hairier manes possibly because they exude a more masculine image, but those with full beards, along with the clean-shaven, give out less sexual attraction to the short term partner. 

Numerous studies correlate beards and attractiveness on many levels, sexual competence being just one, and this allure is so great that it is thought bearded men are much more successful in picking up a partner than those with no facial hair at all. Of course, much depends on the potential partner’s preferences but a well groomed chap who looks after his whiskers, whatever the style or length, seems to have the edge. This is a good moment to remind you that Real Bearded Men can help you with that! Our all-natural products such as oils and balms are designed to keep you looking well groomed and sexy for optimum appearance. 

Attractiveness is also often associated with being able to stand out from the crowd, so if the fashion is for every guy out there to have the same beard style, consider upping the ante by altering the length or the cut so that you can be the peacock amongst the pigeons! Looking at the shape of your face, how your beard hair grows and what styles you are capable of growing will help you to decide how to change your look but remain an attractive proposition for a partner. Our blog article on what may suit you will help you to decide on the way forward for the best beard. 


Beard Attractiveness: Marriage Material and Fatherhood 

If you’re looking to settle down and raise a family, having a good, thick, well groomed beard may stand you in good stead. With more than just light stubble or a Goatee, you are sending out signals that you may be ready for commitment – or, at least, that’s the signal a partner who is looking for her soulmate might see. It shows a proficiency to strive for resources as well as being capable, dependable and trustworthy, and not just a little sexy to keep a long term relationship fresh. These attributes lean towards not only good partnership skills but the ability to provide for a family.

Beard Attractiveness Marriage Material and Fatherhood

Whether your potential partner sees your beard as a sign of these qualities and the desire to settle down may also depend on her background. The suitability of her choice can also factor on whether her father was bearded or beardless, and often there is a subconscious choice to opt for a man who will emulate the masculine role of her childhood. 

At first glance we tend to think that beards represent macho confidence with a dominant trend, but maybe those traits also represent a protecting nature and someone who can provide for their family’s needs. Don’t forget beards give a more mature impression plus a better social standing so it makes sense!

An Alfa Male with the desire to settle and nurture may just be the right type of guy to choose for those long term relationships and maternal needs.


Social Status and Workplace Beards 

The perception of a more mature image and that of a higher social status which beards can give is, of course, all in the eyes and mind of the beholder. History shows us that beards have undergone a variety of status indicators, and this evolution follows not only laws according to culture but also fashion statements down the ages.

Social Status and Workplace Beards

For example, only poverty-stricken citizens were permitted to grow beards in ancient Egypt while those of the monied classes remained clean shaven. In Europe beard perception changed according to the century and for some time the precedent was completely opposite to the ancient Egyptians, with the lower social classes remaining without whiskers but the upper classes sporting beards of culture. In the 1700’s having facial hair was a sign of madness, idiocy or dementia, and subsequently later used as a symbol of immoral or criminal tendencies. This pendulum of speculation swung back at the end of the 1700’s when beards became a fashionable asset, leading to President Lincoln’s famous facial hair and Harvard noting that all its new intake had beards! 

Today beards are a popular personal choice throughout the world regardless of perceived status or social standing, and we have the freedom to beard or not beard with few exceptions. What’s more, bearded men are considered to be more prosocial and happy, promoting social acceptance and friendship.

In the workplace there appears to be some stubbornly set values albeit mostly without reasonably proven logic! We discuss beards and careers in further detail here.

Beards have become indicators of trust and conscientiousness, leading employers eager to recruit bearded employees. For example, it has been found that men looking for employment on the LinkedIn connection and career network are more likely to land an interview – and the new job – if their profile image shows a kind face with facial hair.

However, the type of work also indicates the sort of person an employer is looking for, and while bearded men are preferred for sales and communication roles because they exude positive signals of mature competence, trust and quietly confidence expertise, managerial positions such as directorships and CEO’s are still predominantly held by the clean shaven, maybe because those with beards aren’t considered to be so ambitious and enterprising. This is in direct conflict with the idea that bearded men are more aggressive and assertive – attributes you would think would be prime factors for leadership skills, go-out-and-get-it skills, but current research is inconclusive on this issue. At least we can say that there is a confidence that a man with whiskers will follow through on his daily tasks with competence even if he isn’t on a high salary behind a daunting desk! 

In contrast, there are exceptions to the rule. Bearded doctors may appear to have a superior expertise in their field while bearded Caucasian male hotel receptionists do not assure their clients with a competence needed in that role, despite beards generally conveying a persona of friendly helpfulness. Conversely, bearded African-American men are the exception to the rule and are thought to make great hotel receptionists. Research continues...

A couple of addendums to the work / beard correlation for further thought:

A criminal with a beard is anticipated to be more aggressive and malicious, yet when a child is asked to draw a scientist he or she is more likely to draw a man with facial hair! 


Beard Health and Hygiene Signals 

There is a notion among a proportion of non-bearded people that whiskers hold all types of dirt and grime, particularly if your beard is not well groomed. In some cases this may be correct but generally today’s bearded brotherhood are proved rather meticulous on health and hygiene, often more so than their clean shaven counterparts.

Beard Health and Hygiene Signals

The idea potential partners - and others – have about facial hair harboring germs, grime and bacteria should, mainly, be thrown out with the trash. Being repelled by the thought of such unhygienic practices really should be a thing of the past (with the exception of the odd passing hobo, perhaps!) Not only beards exude a high level of masculinity and attractiveness but also the impact that bearded chaps test high in the husband and father stakes must surely mean that the unhygienic stance is totally unfounded!

However, there are a couple of health facts that we should consider, good and bad:

  • Beards can protect a man’s face from overexposure to the sun; therefore it can be argued that they are less likely to suffer from facial skin cancer. 
  • Controversially there is a study that reflects that those who do not shave frequently are more susceptible to early death, particularly from cardiovascular disease. Nevertheless, this may be due more to lifestyle discrepancies associated with some of the bearded fraternity rather than the whiskers themselves. Again, research continues...


Are Mustaches The Last Resort?

Mustaches Beard Psychology

If you are considering growing a mustache (without the accompanying beard) to give yourself a better level of attractiveness, don’t! Mustachioed men are considered less desirable and also less intelligent compared to their bearded brothers. In previous eras it has been shown mustaches have been a fashionable asset to help attract a partner more so than beards, but in the current climate of the many styles and designs being the norm for facial hair, the lone mustache is projected to be a less alluring feature.


To sum up, beards continue to be the choice of many, for both men and their long or short term partners who choose such distinguished gentlemen. We know beards are in vogue and as a result the clean shaven are often thought to be less attractive, less masculine and, more surprisingly, less intelligent, especially among lower social status communities.

However, fashions change and of course it’s possible that one day the clean shaven look will be the most stylish to have, but for the moment, from short stubble to the long full beard, exhibit that beard and be the man you, and your partner, always dreamed of!


1 comment

  • Posted on by Tai

    Dear RBM,

    This was one of the most put together, less boring article I have read in a beardly long time. Ha :) A little of everything was covered in a “mater of fact”, straight to the point kinda way. Greatly appreciated!!!!!

    This is my first time to the site and I think I will definitely be back. I will be using some of the content, of course giving credit and direction to the site.

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