, Volume 32, Issue 2, pp 136-149
Date: 03 May 2013

The Intermingling of Social and Evolutionary Psychology Influences on Hair Color Preferences

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Hypotheses were tested as explanations for why men and women have specific hair color preferences for mates. Traditional evolutionary psychology approaches suggest that men should prefer light hair on women because it signals youth and health, while women should desire dark hair on men because it signals maturity and stability. Repeated exposure predicts people prefer the hair color on mates they are exposed to most frequently. Uniqueness implies that men and women should desire the least prevalent hair colors on potential mates because of its scarcity and rarity. Findings primarily support traditional evolutionary psychology predictions and occasionally the repeated exposure hypothesis, but not uniqueness predictions. Sex and regional differences indicate that social and evolutionary processes combine to influence hair color preferences.

Authors’ Notes

Portions of this research were presented at the 2005 meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology in New Orleans. This research was supported in part by grants from the National Science Foundation (BCS-9905397) and the National Institute for Mental Health (R15 MH63734-01) awarded to the first author. We appreciate the comments of Dana Wallace and Renee Magnan on earlier drafts of the paper. The authors contributed equally to the article so authorship was determined by coin flips.