You walk up to a bar where three men are already standing having their drinks. Two are blond clean shaven with smooth skin and one has brown hair and a small, but noticeable scar above his right eye. Which of the three men are you more likely attracted to?
According to a University of Liverpool study by Robert Burriss on “Facial Scaring Enhances Men’s Attractiveness for Short Term Relationships”, it will be the guy with the scar. It had been commonly thought that facial scarring in Western societies would not be considered attractive but this study has showed that non-severe facial scarring can in fact make men appear more attractive to women but only in short term relationships. In long term relationships, women are equally attracted to both scarred and unscarred male faces.
The study recruited 147 females and 76 males to view pictures of the opposite sex who had scars either from injury or illness and were asked how attractive they thought the person was for long term or short term relationships. While women found scarring to be an attractive quality in men for short term relationships, the same was not true for men. The men rated women’s attractiveness independent of whether they had scars or not.
The researchers theorize a number of reasons why women may be more attracted to scarred male faces at least for short term relationships. Women may see scars as appearing more masculine and that these men appear to have more testosterone and risk taking qualities. The scars may demonstrate their bravery or strength and their presence signals a “medal of honor” quality. Subconsciously, women many feel that these men are better protectors.
Conversely, women did not find scarred men as attractive for long term relationships. Other studies have found that men whose faces appear softer, more feminine are perceived as being more honest, kinder and more desirable for child rearing, qualities that are of higher value when looking for a husband.
Interestingly, the researchers also point out that we may have more in common with non-Western tribes despite our differences; that we may also perceive scars as acts of valor. The Yanomano tribe in Venezuala rubs red pigment to accentuate scars on their heads where they have received numerous blows during ritual battles demonstrating their strength. Intentional scaring in the form of tattoos similarly conveys a signal of sexual maturity and has been used in tribal life to attract mates.
The results of this facial scar study, immediately made me think about why some women are attracted to “bad” boy types, some of whom turn out to not treat them very well. When you ask these women why they always go after the wrong kind of guys, they acknowledge that those types are more attractive to them but they can’t exactly explain why the “nicer” guys are not. Perhaps deep inside, some women just respond more to those physical masculine cues like scars and they are less able to resist responding to this attraction then other women.
The study results for “Facial Scaring Enhances Men’s Attractiveness for Short Term Relationships” can be found at: www.personal.psu.edu/rpb13/site/pdfs/burriss_09_paid.pdf
Michele is an R.N. freelance writer with a special interest in woman’s healthcare and quality of care issues. Other articles by Michele can be read at http://www.helium.com/users/487540/show_articles