For Men Only

I am hoping that heading will arouse the curiosity of both genders. However, the topic is one that normally applies to males: beardedness. I have noticed a vast increase in the number of men that are sporting beards these days. The beards, and the men, come in all sizes and shapes. I have heard that any man that shaves his facial hair can raise a beard of some kind. That’s undoubtedly true but my two or three attempts have been unsuccessful. My main problem is that after a few days my face itches so much that I reach for my razor.

I have also read that beardedness affects a man’s personality. In 1973, psychologist Robert J. Pellegrini reported in Psychology on an experiment on the perception of male personality as a function of varying states of beardedness. In the experiment, Pellegrini hired eight full-bearded young men who were willing to have their beards fully shaved for a payment of ten dollars. (Ten bucks was worth a lot more back in 1973.)

After the bearded participants became un-bearded, they were photographed in the following beard stages: clean-shaven; mustache; goatee and mustache; and full beard. There were 32 photos: four of each of the eight participants. These photos were given to 64 male and 64 female evaluators who were asked to rate their first impressions on a number of personality traits. Two males and two females rated each photo. The results showed a positive correlation between the amount of hair on the person’s face and his being perceived as masculine, mature, good-looking, dominant, self-confident, courageous, liberal, non-conforming, and older. (All those personality traits – except that last one – are ones I have always wanted to acquire.)

Pellegrini suggested that the presence of hair on a young man’s face is associated with an idealized image of the male personality. However, he cautioned that the results could be different for older bearded men. He also pointed out that the evaluators were themselves college freshmen. In summarizing the experiment’s results, he stated, “Judging from the data in the present research, the male beard communicates an heroic image of the independent, sturdy, and resourceful pioneer, ready, willing and able to do manly things. It may very well be true that inside every clean-shaven man there is a beard screaming to be let out. If so, the results of the present study provide a strong rational for indulging that demand.”

He may be right. My beard may be screaming to be let out but I remember too well the itching involved in the letting out. If I could skip that itching stage, I might be willing to let my beard have a coming-out party.

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