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Hairstyle as an adaptive means of displaying phenotypic quality

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Although facial features that are considered beautiful have been investigated across cultures using the framework of sexual selection theory, the effects of head hair on esthetic evaluations have rarely been examined from an evolutionary perspective. In the present study the effects of six hair-styles (short, medium-length, long, disheveled, knot [hair bun], unkempt) on female facial attractiveness were examined in four dimensions (femininity, youth, health, sexiness) relative to faces without visible head hair (“basic face”). Three evolutionary hypotheses were tested (covering hypothesis, healthy mate theory, and good genes model); only the good genes model was supported by our data. According to this theory, individuals who can afford the high costs of long hair are those who have good phenotypic and genetic quality. In accordance with this hypothesis, we found that only long and medium-length hair had a significant positive effect on ratings of women’s attractiveness; the other hairstyles did not influence the evaluation of their physical beauty. Furthermore, these two hairstyles caused a much larger change in the dimension of health than in the rest of the dimensions. Finally, male raters considered the longer-haired female subjects’ health status better, especially if the subjects were less attractive women. The possible relationships between facial attractiveness and hair are discussed, and alternative explanations are presented.
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... Research in the field of human attractiveness referred to more components: facial attractiveness (Nestor et al., 2010), physical attractiveness (Li et al., 2019), vocal attractiveness (Shang and Liu, 2022), hairstyle attractiveness (Mesko and Bereczkei, 2004), or attire attractiveness (Sebastian and Bristow, 2008). Studies also investigated the association between height and attractiveness (Shepperd and Strathman, 1989) or shoes and attractiveness (Morris et al., 2013). ...
... Females with long hair are considered more attractive than females in short hair and healthier by men, especially if women are less attractive. Long hair, as it is harder to care for, it is associated with high phenotypic and genetic quality (Mesko and Bereczkei, 2004). ...
... Facial and vocal attractiveness are associated in the mind of the assessor with 'traits indicative of sex hormone levels … in order to assess mate value' (Shang and Liu, 2022, p. 1-2). Another study found that hairdressing has a large effect on face attractiveness (Mesko and Bereczkei, 2004), while facial attractiveness has an effect on clothing attractiveness, in women (Niimi and Yamada, 2020). ...
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IntroductionGenerally, people do judge a book by its cover. The purpose of this research is to investigate the effect of teachers’ attire on students’ perception of 34 psychological dimensions.Methods The research is an experiment, with self-reported data, in groups, based on a questionnaire. The participants were 173 students (Mage = 12.16, SD = 1.74) from Suceava, Romania. Two groups of students were asked to listen to a sample lesson of a therapeutic story, narrated by a teacher. One group was given a picture of the attractive teacher and the other group a picture of the unattractive teacher, and were told that the teacher who is narrating is the teacher in the picture. After listening to the same story, the respondents had to answer a questionnaire about teachers’ personality and characteristics.ResultsThe results indicated that when the teacher is perceived as being more attractive, the students have a greater openness for school activities, the evaluation of the teacher’s personality is more positive, the evaluation of the teaching effort is more positive, students expect a higher grade, and the perceived age of the teacher is lower.DiscussionThe article underlines the role of clothing in molding student’s perception and raises questions about dress codes in schools. Implications for school context are discussed.
... Consequently, long hair can be a status symbol (Stenn, 2016). Women's long hair is also associated with femininity and facial attractiveness and is expected from women in regard to health status (Mesko and Bereczkei, 2004). By looking at perceptions with regard to different hair colors and lengths, Manning (2010) suggested that women who have short hair are believed to be less feminine than other women, as short hair is culturally assigned to men. ...
... To echo previous research on gender identity and hairstyles (Mesko and Bereczkei, 2004;Stenn, 2016), the present study revealed that while hairstyles may relate to the identity of a person, there are gender differences in their preferred hairstyles and identity. As a cultural and universal norm, women have longer hair than men, and they use extra resources to keep long hair looking pretty, which also becomes a status symbol (Stenn, 2016). ...
... As a cultural and universal norm, women have longer hair than men, and they use extra resources to keep long hair looking pretty, which also becomes a status symbol (Stenn, 2016). Long hair represents beauty, femininity, physical health, and attractiveness, even in Chinese societies (Mesko and Bereczkei, 2004;Zheng, 2016) and among Chinese female prisoners. Undoubtedly, depriving them of the right to have long hair would result in emotional instability and violent expressive behavior. ...
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Hair regulation is an essential policy for maintaining hygiene, security, and discipline in correctional institutions. However, the implementation of any hair-regulating policy should include a consideration of gender needs and differences. This study investigated Chinese prisoners’ perceived influence of hairstyles on their behavioral responses. Data were collected by means of a self-administered questionnaire survey from 500 male and 500 female prisoners in 11 correctional institutions of Hong Kong, China. Descriptive analyses and chi-square tests were used to explore the perceived violence of prisoners and gender differences. Mediation analysis was adopted to examine the prisoners’ perceived behavioral responses and mental and psychological well-being under different hairstyle situations, using self-esteem, procedural fairness, and negative emotional responses as mediators. The study found that male prisoners are inherently more tensive than the female group in terms of violent proclivities. In addition, perceived violent behavior is associated with hairstyle, and the influence path is gender related. Restrictive hair regulations that do not address unique social and cultural meanings and gender differences would decrease male prisoners’ self-esteem, while increasing all prisoners’ negative emotional responses and reducing their perceived procedural fairness. To maintain security inside institutions, we recommend short hair for male prisoners and long hair for female prisoners in Chinese prisons. Given that many prisons in Asian and African nations have an authoritarian style of governance similar to that of China, this study is of considerable international relevance.
... In addition, amidst changing depilation and hairstyling practices throughout time and across cultures, people have displayed preferences for certain hairstyles in mates and altered and groomed their hair so as to appear more attractive (Butler, Smith, Collazo, Caltabiano, & Herbenick, 2015;Dixson & Brooks, 2013;Dixson et al., 2019;Herbenick, Schick, Reece, Sanders, & Fortenberry, 2010;Ramsey, Sweeney, Fraser, & Oades, 2009). This suggests that sexual selection has helped to shape depilation and hairstyling, perhaps as forms of ornamentation to increase perceived attractiveness and phenotypic quality (i.e., intersexual selection) or as cues to physical formidability, dominance, or status (i.e., intrasexual competition; Darwin, 1871;Dixson & Brooks, 2013;Dixson & Rantala, 2016;Dixson et al., 2019;Dixson & Vasey, 2012;Hinsz, Matz, & Patience, 2001;Meskó & Bereczkei, 2004). ...
... Similar to body hair removal practices, hairstyling norms have varied significantly across culture and time and have been used to communicate social rank, racial and ethnic identity, religious affiliation, political orientation, sex, and gender, along with various aspects of sexuality (e.g., puberty, fecundity, and celibacy; Sherrow, 2001Sherrow, , 2006. Evolutionary researchers have argued that hairstyling influences mate choice and has likely been shaped by sexual selection (Bereczkei & Meskó, 2006;Meskó & Bereczkei, 2004;Sugiyama, 2005). Scholars have proposed, for instance, that long head hair may be an honest signal of an individual's genetic quality and health and contribute to reproductive success (Etcoff, 1999;Hinsz et al., 2001;Meskó & Bereczkei, 2004;Sugiyama, 2005). ...
... Evolutionary researchers have argued that hairstyling influences mate choice and has likely been shaped by sexual selection (Bereczkei & Meskó, 2006;Meskó & Bereczkei, 2004;Sugiyama, 2005). Scholars have proposed, for instance, that long head hair may be an honest signal of an individual's genetic quality and health and contribute to reproductive success (Etcoff, 1999;Hinsz et al., 2001;Meskó & Bereczkei, 2004;Sugiyama, 2005). Poor nutrition and being deficient in proteins, vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids can result in structural damage to hair, changes in pigmentation, and hair loss (Finner, 2013). ...
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Researchers have highlighted numerous sociocultural factors that have been shown to underpin human appearance enhancement practices, including the influence of peers, family, the media, and sexual objectification. Fewer scholars have approached appearance enhancement from an evolutionary perspective or considered how sociocultural factors interact with evolved psychology to produce appearance enhancement behavior. Following others, we argue that evidence from the field of evolutionary psychology can complement existing sociocultural models by yielding unique insight into the historical and cross-cultural ubiquity of competition over aspects of physical appearance to embody what is desired by potential mates. An evolutionary lens can help to make sense of reliable sex and individual differences that impact appearance enhancement, as well as the context-dependent nature of putative adaptations that function to increase physical attractiveness. In the current review, appearance enhancement is described as a self-promotion strategy used to enhance reproductive success by rendering oneself more attractive than rivals to mates, thereby increasing one’s mate value. The varied ways in which humans enhance their appearance are described, as well as the divergent tactics used by women and men to augment their appearance, which correspond to the preferences of opposite-sex mates in a heterosexual context. Evolutionarily relevant individual differences and contextual factors that vary predictably with appearance enhancement behavior are also discussed. The complementarity of sociocultural and evolutionary perspectives is emphasized and recommended avenues for future interdisciplinary research are provided for scholars interested in studying appearance enhancement behavior.
... This holds especially for shape features but may not be true or applicable to some non-shape traits, such as skin and eye color, which are often preferred in their unusual and rare variants, probably due to frequency-dependent sexual selection [24][25][26]. Of course, there are many other cues to facial attractiveness: in addition to shape and color traits, skin smoothness and specific makeup and hairstyling also influence facial preferences [27][28][29][30][31][32][33]. These are, however, outside the scope of the current, purely morphological analysis. ...
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Facial symmetry, averageness, and the level of sex-typical development of dimorphic traits are traditionally associated with various biological quality indicators and should be, therefore, preferred in mate choice. The aim of this study is to propose a concept of morphological uniqueness and uncover its possible associations to putative phenotypic cues of biological quality. In contrast to typicality expressed by averageness, morphological uniqueness quantifies the degree of possessing characteristics unique to particular groups. I employed a combination of geometric morphometric and Bayesian multiple regression to analyze 300 Cameroonian faces, while an additional 1153 faces from eight distinct populations from across four continents were used as a reference sample of the global population to calculate the morphological uniqueness of Cameroonians. I found that morphological uniqueness is positively associated with a feminine facial shape in women and negatively with morphological masculinity in men. Facial symmetry was positively associated with female faces with greater levels of uniqueness; the result for male faces was inconclusive. The faces of both sexes perceived as more attractive had lower levels of morphological uniqueness. Facial distinctiveness showed no relationship to morphological uniqueness in either sex, which indicates that morphological uniqueness and distinctiveness are two complementary approaches to studying facial typicality. In the conclusion, the evolutionary significance of the proposed concept and its potential applicability is discussed.
... As a 28-year-old said, 'Whether you are attractive or not your hairstyle adds something to it.' This highlight was promoted by Mesko and Bereczkei (2004), who found that adding different hairstyles to female faces had a larger influence on perceived attractiveness. This is underpinned by the actual-self and hair covering hypotheses that underpin how an individual perceives their beauty and highlights how facial features increase attractiveness (Gordon 2019;Essel et al. 2019). ...
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In this article, we review research on social factors with the main focus being on how self, social factors and fashion consciousness interact with the choice of hairstyles. By highlighting the situations of 397 Ghanaian female youth, we show how their perspectives define beautiful hairstyles and how social factors interact with the choice of hairstyle with fashion consciousness as a mediator. Using social actual-concept and social factors on behaviours as theoretical frameworks, we show the influence of religious influence, views of social group members, attractiveness and uniqueness on choice of hairstyle. Mediator analyses indicate that fashion consciousness explains the interactions among views of social group members and attractiveness with the choice of hairstyle. Implications for marketing and future directions for research on choice of hairstyle are suggested.
... Furthermore, they were asked to bring their own high-heeled shoes measuring 8 to 10 cm from the sole to the tip of the heel. To eliminate possible effects of hairstyle [31,32], each model tied up her hair with a hairband prior to the photoshoot and filming. ...
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Previous studies have demonstrated that the angle of women's lumbar curvature affects men's attractiveness judgments of them. The theoretically optimal angle of lumbar curvature provides better resistance against both hyperlordosis and hypolordosis as biomechanical costs of a bipedal fetal load that could impair a woman's fertility. Since men find this attribute attractive, women aim to emphasize it by wearing high-heeled shoes. The primary objective of the present study was to test this evolutionary hypothesis using short videos presenting women walking by the camera. In line with previous findings based on static stimuli (photographs), dynamic stimuli (videos) presenting women walking in high-heeled shoes were expected to elicit increased attractiveness ratings as compared to women wearing flat shoes, which would be associated with the angle of lumbar curvature. Videos were taken of 52 female models walking in two conditions (i.e., wearing either high-heeled or flat shoes). A total of 108 participants (61 males, 47 females) rated the walking models' physical attractiveness in an online setting. Each model's lumbar curvature was measured both in high heels and in flat shoes using photographs taken of them prior to each video recording. The results showed that wearing high heels consistently increased the models' attractiveness, regardless of whether or not it decreased their natural difference from the theoretically optimal angle of lumbar curvature. Both male and female observers showed this positive effect. Furthermore, a negative correlation was found between the models' body mass index (BMI) and their perceived attractiveness scores in both conditions.
... Hair is one of the most controllable aspects of physical attractiveness and many women (and men) spend a great deal of money, time, and effort grooming their hair in order to appear more attractive to others [26]. Arguments for the role of hair in attractiveness have been presented in several studies, and hair provides a normally visible indication of a woman's youth and health, which can increase attractiveness substantially [26,44,45]. Indeed, in the present study, partially covered and uncovered images revealed similar amounts of hair around the face, and this may explain why both types of image produced the same higher ratings of facial attractiveness relative to the fully covered condition. ...
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The hijab is central to the lives of Muslim women across the world but little is known about the actual effects exerted by this garment on perceptions of the wearer. Indeed, while previous research has suggested that wearing the hijab may affect the physical attractiveness of women, the actual effect of wearing the hijab on perceptions of female facial attractiveness by Muslim men in a Muslim country is largely unknown. Accordingly, this study investigated the effects of the hijab on female facial attractiveness perceived by practising Muslim men living in their native Muslim country (the United Arab Emirates). Participants were presented with frontal-head images of women shown in three conditions: in the fully covered condition, heads were completely covered by the hijab except for the face; in the partially covered condition, heads were completely covered by the hijab except for the face and areas around the forehead and each side of the face and head; in the uncovered condition, heads had no covering at all. The findings revealed that faces where heads were uncovered or partially covered were rated as equally attractive, and both were rated as substantially more attractive than faces where heads were fully covered. Thus, while wearing the hijab can suppress female facial attractiveness to men, these findings suggest that not all hijab wearing has this effect, and female facial attractiveness for practising Muslim men living in their native Muslim country may not be reduced simply by wearing this garment. Indeed, from the findings we report, slight changes to the positioning of the hijab (the partially covered condition) produce perceptions of facial attractiveness that are no lower than when no hijab is worn, and this may have important implications for wearing the hijab in Muslim societies. Finally, we argue that the pattern of effects we observed is not explained by anti-Islamic feeling or cultural endogamy, and that a major contributory factor is that being fully covered by the hijab occludes external features, especially the hair and lateral parts of the head and face, which, when normally visible, provide a substantial perceptual contribution to human facial attractiveness.
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Este livro foi pensado para ser um primeiro texto introdutório às bases ecológicas e evolutivas do comportamento humano, voltado para o ensino ao nível de graduação. Embora cada capítulo possa ser lido em qualquer ordem, organizamos de modo que a sequência sugerida permita ao aprofundamento paulatino dos diferentes conceitos e disciplinas dedi- cadas aos estudos do comportamento humano.
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