The current western ideal for masculine beauty is hairlessness, as most women today will report they prefer to date men with little or no body hair. A new study suggests that there this preference may have a biological basis after researchers at the University of Turku and Åbo Academy in Finland found that women’s preference for men function of their torso hair depended on their menstrual cycle and also how hairy their fathers were – in Finland at least. Freud would had agreed.

The researchers asked 20 male volunteers, aged 20-32 years, to shave their torso hair. Photos were made before and after and for their trouble each male was awarded a 0.33l bottle of Koskenkorva vodka. These were shown to women who were asked to rate how attractive they found the men for each photo. Prior to this, the women volunteers were polled regarding their menstrual cycle and how much hair did their current partners, as well as fathers, have.

Paired photographs of a male body before (a) and after (b) the removal of body hair. The photographs were presented to women in the forced-choice trial. (c) Behavioral Ecology

Paired photographs of a male body before (a) and after (b) the removal of body hair. The photographs were presented to women in the forced-choice trial. (c) Behavioral Ecology

The findings suggest that women generally prefer men’s body hair levels resembling those of their current partners and fathers. During ovulation, however, women prefer less hairy men.  This suggests that biology plays a major role in altering the direction and strength of   female preference even for traits that are not ‘‘good genes’’ indicators and whose preference may be culturally based. What’s more interesting, however, is that the study suggests that Finish women prefer men with body hair levels close to their fathers, hinting that this preference is heritable.

The results were reported in a paper published in the journal Behavioral Ecology.

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