Is there a connection between beards and masculinity? Considering fighting is one of the most primitive forms of contesting masculinity, does that mean bearded guys are better fighters? Or perhaps just more menacing? Chances are if you imagine a Viking, some of history’s most infamous fighting forces, you will imagine a bearded man. In fact the ancient armies of Korea and Mongolia would often sport bearded men, as do the modern armies of some of the Middle Eastern states such as Iran. Do these bearded men correlate to a more menacing foe? These general ideas are explored by Australian psychologists in a recent study.
Researchers from the University of Queensland hypothesised many different things, including that beards could help men in combat with other men, signalling some level of fighting ability, as well as a belief in older times that beards would even provide protection to the head and face meaning bearded fighters get knocked out less often, receive fewer jaw injuries, abrasions, lacerations and brain damage. In fact they write in the study, ‘Beards… play a strong role in communicating masculinity, dominance and aggressiveness”.
Putting aside how beards were viewed in older times, the researchers looked at some data on some modern fighters – turning to the UFC or Ultimate Fighting Championship. They tried to understand if some are better fighters due to such traits as height, weight, beardedness, fighting stance (whether someone is a southpaw or orthodox), arm reach as well as their previous fighting track record.
Contrary to what the researchers expected, the research found no evidence that being bearded was linked to fewer losses by K.O. or an improved fighting ability. The only interesting correlation they came out with is that fighters with longer reaches did better – well that’s nothing new though is it?
If you are interested in reading more on this interesting study then you can here.