Society has reached the moment of "peak beard," at least according to science. A new study out of the University of New South Wales has revealed that largely due to its over-abundance, the reign of the hipster fashion beard is finally nearing its end.
The research focused on the beard's role in a man's sex appeal, asserting that a bearded man's attractiveness is directly proportional to how often beards are seen. The more people see beards, the less attractive they find them.
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The researchers showed over 1,500 people photographs of 36 men with varying degrees of facial hair (full beard, stubble, clean-shaven) and the participants ranked the bearded men according to attractiveness. The research found that people who saw more beards were less attracted to them.
But these results aren't just a matter of fashion and petty preferences. They're a direct result of evolutionary genetics.
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The study confirms the principle of "negative frequency-dependent selection" (NFD), which is that people are often attracted to what's unusual. Beards were (for a moment) unusual. Now they're not, and therefore they are less appealing.
Of course, there are reasons beyond fashion that people grow beards — religion being one of them. The link between beards and masculinity is another factor — warriors of yore grew them in times of battle and today's sports teams and Mo-vember participants grow them in times of particular brethren solidarity.
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The trend of beards as fashion statements is now a decade old and as researcher Richard Brooks put it, "These trends usually move in 30-year cycles from when they are first noticed but, with the Internet, things are moving a lot faster." A decade in Internet years is like 30-years in normal years, so it's really just math that beards are coming to an end.