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I know intuitively this is true but was wondering if there ever has been a scientific, statistically significant survey to find if it is true.

Long hair is traditionally strongly linked to femininity which we're sure is the reason that almost half of men have singled out this long, thick, wavy hair as their number one sexiest style.
Men find long, wavy locks the sexiest hair do, while short hair leaves them cold, says poll

The above is only a newspaper poll, so not exactly scientific. Is there any real science in the subject?

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    Welcome to Skeptics! According to the FAQ, Skeptics.SE is for researching the evidence behind the claims you hear or read. This question doesn't appear to have any doubtful claims to investigate. Please edit it to reference a notable claim and flag for moderator attention to re-open (or get 5 re-open votes). – Oddthinking Dec 4 '17 at 22:30
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    On this site, a notable source isn't evidence that it is true. It is evidence that people believe it is true - show us other people saying it is true. Writing an high quality answer takes a lot of time, and we don't want to spend it on individuals' speculations. – Oddthinking Dec 4 '17 at 22:31
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    I've edited the question according to site guidelines. @odd Can you reopen? – fredsbend Dec 4 '17 at 23:04
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    Dear answerers: This is almost certainly going to be a culturally-bound question. Be sure to limit your claims where appropriate. – Oddthinking Dec 4 '17 at 23:28
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    Example: academic study, but not-really-representative sample (i.e. just students) link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12110-004-1008-6 These are dime-a-dozen. – Fizz Dec 4 '17 at 23:58
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I'd rank this as "possibly true, but I wouldn't bet too much on it". From what I can tell, there are no large, representative samples surveyed/studied in publications known for publishing high quality research.

One small/student sample study (2003) conducted at the University of Pécs (in Hungary) found a positive association:

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.

I also found a (pretty old, alas) narrative review (2005) on female attractiveness factors which didn't even include hair because it says there's wasn't enough research on that.

A multi-faceted study (2008) with a small sample "recruited opportunistically from a campus setting in Greater London" found (among other things) that

hair length had only a weak effect on ratings of attractiveness

And perhaps it's not only length itself that matters but other aspects of hair presentation. A 2015 study conducted in a "pedestrian areas of a town (around 60–70,000 inhabitants) situated on the south coast of Brittany in France" reports:

The confederate had long dark hair arranged in three different hairstyles: one with her hair falling naturally on her shoulders and her back, one with her hair tied in a ponytail, and one with her hair twisted in a bun. Results reported that the hairstyle had no effect on female passersby's helping behavior. However, it was found that the hairstyle influenced male passersby with men helping the confederate more readily when her hair fell naturally on her neck, shoulders and upper back.

It's easy to string up such small studies and conclude "OMG, there's an effect (even if it's weak)", but one has to be concerned with publication bias etc.


And regarding the poll in the question: this wasn't the newspaper's own poll, because it was explicitly reported in other venues as being conducted by TRESemme Philips, something that isn't all that clear in Daily Mail's reporting of the study. But I agree with Oddthinking's comment that a poll conducted by an company selling hair-care products presents an obvious conflict of interest. Also, from the newspaper reporting I can't tell what the methodology was. Even in the Hungarian (2003) study, they used the same faces with different (photoshopped) hairs. But I'm not sure that was done in the Phillips study. Usually Phillips puts out a press release on such things, which is often better written than the newspaper reporting thereof, but I cannot find their press release for this (2008) poll.


Alas it seems there's no systematic research on how cultural variations influence the perception of female hair length, so the best I can offer in that respect is some anecdotal evidence, which I may as well pluck from a newspaper:

"Short hair is still equated with masculinity," says Lesnik-Oberstein. "I have very short hair, and in England I often get mistaken for a man. It happened to me recently with two older ladies who mistook me for a man in the loo and said: 'Sir, this is a ladies' loo' very politely. They were mortified when I told them I was actually a woman. That never happens to me on the continent – for instance in Germany or Holland, where a lot of these societies are more egalitarian and matriarchal."


This may not be terribly relevant, but I'll still mention that a study on a large sample of people with fetishes and who necessarily discussed their fetishes on-line, found that trichophilia (hair fetish) had a prevalence in this sample of about 7%, which ranked it 4th among body-part fetishes. Of course, this is far from being the prevalence of trichophilia in society/population at large. In comparison, in the same sample 47% had a foot/toes fetish, which was by far the most common body-part fetish.

My reasoning for looking at this last issue/study is that if there's some preference for some kind of hair in the general population, there are probably some individuals who exhibit it strongly enough to make it a fetish (for them). I'm not convinced that data from this last study is all that good though, because breast or buttocks fetishes were reported much lower (3% and respectively 2%) which seems counterintuitive and probably indicative of a strong selection bias in the sample.

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    Breast and Buttocks are so universally accepted as "something you can be attracted to" that most people only consider having a fetish for those when that attraction is extreme. Most people associate "fetish" to a unusual sexual attraction for something outside the society standards, like feet, hair, lips, hands, latex, pain, etc - with that in mind, the 3% and 2% numbers aren't strange at all. – T. Sar - Reinstate Monica Dec 5 '17 at 10:31

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