The Association Between Men's Sexist Attitudes and Facial Hair

Arch Sex Behav. 2016 May;45(4):891-9. doi: 10.1007/s10508-015-0637-7. Epub 2015 Oct 28.


Facial hair, like many masculine secondary sexual traits, plays a significant role in perceptions of an array of sociosexual traits in men. While there is consensus that beards enhance perceptions of masculinity, age, social dominance, and aggressiveness, the perceived attractiveness of facial hair varies greatly across women. Given the ease with which facial hair can be groomed and removed entirely, why should some men retain beards and others choose to remove them? We hypothesized that men with relatively sexist attitudes would be more likely to allow their facial hair to grow than men with less sexist attitudes. Men from the USA (n = 223) and India (n = 309) completed an online survey measuring demographic variables, ambivalent sexism, and facial hair status. After controlling for demographic variables, men with facial hair were significantly higher in hostile sexism than clean-shaven men; hostile sexism was a significant predictor of facial hair status over and above demographic variables; and facial hair was more frequent among ambivalent and hostile sexists than among benevolent and non-sexists. It is suggested that sexist men choose to grow facial hair because it maximizes sexual dimorphism and augments perceived masculinity and dominance.

Keywords: Ambivalent sexism; Facial hair; Masculinity; Social dominance.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aggression
  • Attitude
  • Face*
  • Female
  • Hair*
  • Hostility*
  • Humans
  • India
  • Male
  • Masculinity*
  • Men
  • Sexism
  • Sexual Behavior
  • Social Dominance*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • White People