Lighter and longer hair makes women look more attractive, new research finds.
Having lighter hair was most strongly linked to higher ratings for attractiveness, youth and health.
However, there were some kinks in the findings.
For example, having medium-length blonde hair was rated more attractive than long blonde hair.
Long black hair, though, was rated as more attractive than medium-length black hair.
The study’s authors describe their results:
“…we found that lighter hair (blond and brown) compared to darker hair (black) is generally associated with perceptions of youth, health and attractiveness, and generally leads to more positive perceptions of relationship and parenting potential.”
For the study, 110 men looked at images of women with different coloured hair and of different lengths.
The hair colours were blond, brown and black and the lengths short, medium and long.
They were asked about the women’s relationship potential, age, health and parenting capability.
Longer hair, though, was linked to lower perceptions of parenting ability.
The study’s authors view their findings as supporting evolutionary theories:
“Hair that is healthy and strong signifies overall physical[…]
health, which in turn can signify one’s capability of conceiving and carrying a child.
Because hair tends to be thicker, healthier, and grow more quickly in younger women (ages 16-24) than older women, one would expect that younger women would wear their hair longer than older women to provide a more perceptible and powerful signal to reproductive potential.”
Similarly, from an evolutionary perspective, blonde hair signals youth as people’s hair gets darker with age, until it starts to turn white.
Other studies suggest, though, that blonde hair only has a rejuvenating effect when women are under 40.
There is also evidence that preferences for blonde or darker hair depend on how prevalent that hair colour is in the area.
Men seem to prefer blonde hair more in areas where it is already more naturally prevalent.
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The study was published in The Journal of Social Psychology (Matz & Hinsz, 2017).