Paired photographs of a male body before (a) and after (b) the removal of body hair. The photographs were presented to women in the forced-choice trial. (c) Behavioral Ecology

Do women prefer hairy men? Study suggests menstrual cycle and father’s body hair influence mating preferences

The current western ideal for masculine beauty is hairlessness, as most women today will report they prefer to date men with little or no body hair. A new study suggests that there this preference may have a biological basis after researchers at the University of Turku and Åbo Academy in Finland found that women’s preference for men function of their torso hair depended on their menstrual cycle and also how hairy their fathers were – in Finland at least. Freud would had agreed.

The researchers asked 20 male volunteers, aged 20-32 years, to shave their torso hair. Photos were made before and after and for their trouble each male was awarded a 0.33l bottle of Koskenkorva vodka. These were shown to women who were asked to rate how attractive they found the men for each photo. Prior to this, the women volunteers were polled regarding their menstrual cycle and how much hair did their current partners, as well as fathers, have.

Paired photographs of a male body before (a) and after (b) the removal of body hair. The photographs were presented to women in the forced-choice trial. (c) Behavioral Ecology

Paired photographs of a male body before (a) and after (b) the removal of body hair. The photographs were presented to women in the forced-choice trial. (c) Behavioral Ecology

The findings suggest that women generally prefer men’s body hair levels resembling those of their current partners and fathers. During ovulation, however, women prefer less hairy men.  This suggests that biology plays a major role in altering the direction and strength of   female preference even for traits that are not ‘‘good genes’’ indicators and whose preference may be culturally based. What’s more interesting, however, is that the study suggests that Finish women prefer men with body hair levels close to their fathers, hinting that this preference is heritable.

The results were reported in a paper published in the journal Behavioral Ecology.

6 thoughts on “Do women prefer hairy men? Study suggests menstrual cycle and father’s body hair influence mating preferences

  1. Rich Stine

    Tibi, you know I love your posts, but I must reply to this one: Oh, fer cryin’ out loud. Seriously. Unless you know ALL women, relegating the idea of what women ‘prefer’ should not be so constrained or regulated to a singular geographic area (Finland) and the echoes of one man (Freud) however celebrated he is.
    One thing that is certain: Women are no more all alike than men are. It isn’t a gender thing, so much as a, well, a Human thing. :)

  2. tibipuiu

    on a personal level, i fully agree. i merely reported their findings. this may very well be the case in Finland, though – mating preferences can vary greatly from region to region, and culture.

  3. Rich Stine

    You are right, of course, that there are all sorts of variants of what any person or groups find popularly attractive. And region/culture, certainly be one of the variants shaping what is considered attractive.
    I have a book that has photographs from the early-mid part of the last century, from around the globe. Among the most disturbing photos, are those of indigenous Australians (for example) being forced to wear corsets and ridiculously victorian-y, fluffy, constricting dresses of Europe. The looks on the faces of the photographer’s subjects, speaks volumes. Nobody looks comfortable, happy, or even very attractive, for that matter! :)

  4. francisco

    a man who is very hairy is because he has similar skin property to women’s, that is her/his skin follicle is too sensitive to testosterone, that’s why real women instinctively pefer men who are less hairy, which resembles the real men whose skin tolerance for testosterone is very high.

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