Unlike many hipster trends, there is at least one that science may have successfully demystified. Men are growing beards to assert dominance over other men and appeal to women, a report suggests.
Those are the findings of a new study commissioned by The University of Western Australia, according to a report in the UK publication The Telegraph. Published in the journal of Evolution and Human Behaviour, researchers studied 154 different species of primates, and found many males developed "badges" that boosted their sex appeal and made them more attractive to the females of its species.
The study underscores what has become a nettlesome problem for major shaving product companies like Gillette. The movement to "kill the shave" has upended traditional male grooming patterns, and is at least partly faulted for waning razor sales.
Dr. Cyril Gueter told The Telegraph that the distinguishing characteristics among apes and monkeys correlated to beards in humans. The recent boom in male facial hair, Gueter says, is related to intra-societal competition among males.
Accordingly, the more crowded with men a society is, the more they view other men as potential competitors, and display badges ostentatiously. The busier and more crowded with males a society becomes, the more competition there is and the more flamboyant the badges are.
"In large groups where individuals are surrounded by strangers, we need a quick reliable tool to evaluate someone's strength and quality, and that's where these elaborate ornaments come in," Gueter told the publication
"In the case of humans, this may also include phenotypic extensions such as body decoration, jewellery and prestige items," he added.
The Telegraph's full report can be found here: