Previous research on the effect of hair color on people’s evaluation and behavior has revealed discrepant results and the real effect of both male and female hair color on their mating attractiveness has never been tested. In Study 1, female confederates wearing blond, brown, black or red colored wigs were observed while sitting in a nightclub. In Study 2, male confederates wearing different colored wigs asked women in a nightclub for a dance. It was found that blond women were more frequently approached by men whereas blond males did not receive more acceptances to their requests. However, in both conditions, red hair was associated with less attractiveness. Evolutionary theory and differences in mating preferences are used to explain the blond hair effect. Scarcity of red-haired individuals in the population and negative stereotypes associated with red hair are used to explain the negative effect of red hair.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Ayton, P. (2005). How do men feel about women’s hair colour? A survey of male attitudes and reactions to women’s hair. London: Unpublished manuscript, City University.
Bozon, M., & Héran, F. (2006). La formation du couple. Paris: La Découverte.
Buss, D. M. (1989). Sex differences in human mate preferences: evolutionary hypotheses tested in 37 cultures. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 12, 1–49.
Buss, D. M. (1994). The evolution of desire. New York: Basic Books.
Clayson, D. E., & Maughan, M. R. C. (1986). Redheads and blondes: stereotypic images. Psychological Reports, 59, 811–816.
Dunn, M. J., & Searle, R. (2010). Effect of manipulated prestige-car ownership on both sex attractiveness ratings. British Journal of Psychology, 101, 69–80.
Feinman, S., & Gill, G. W. (1978). Sex differences in physical attractiveness preferences. Journal of Social Psychology, 105, 43–52.
Frost, P. (2006). European hair and eye color—A case of frequency-dependent sexual selection? Evolution and Human Behavior, 27, 85–103.
Gray, J. (2008). Human hair. In A. J. McMichael & M. K. Hordinsky (Eds.), Hair and scalp diseases: Medical, surgical, and cosmetic treatments (pp. 1–19). London: Taylor and Francis.
Guéguen, N. (2007a). Bust size and hitchhiking: a field study. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 105, 1294–1298.
Guéguen, N. (2007b). Psychologie de la seduction. Paris: Dunod.
Guéguen, N. (2009). Menstrual cycle phases and female receptivity to a courtship solicitation: an evaluation in a night-club. Evolution & Human Behavior, 30, 351–355.
Guéguen, N., & Lamy, L. (2009). Hitchhiking women’s hair color. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 109, 941–948.
Heckert, D. M., & Best, A. (1997). Ugly duckling to swan: labeling theory and the stigmatization of red hair. Symbolic Interaction, 20, 365–384.
Jacob, C., Guéguen, N., Boulbry, G., & Ardicioni, R. (2009). Waitresses’ facial cosmetics and tipping: a field experiment. International Journal of Hospitality Management, 29, 188–190.
Juni, S., & Roth, M. R. (1985). The influence of hair color on soliciting help. Social Behavior and Personality, 13, 11–19.
Kenrick, D. T., Groth, G. E., Trost, M. R., & Sadalla, E. K. (1993). Integrating evolutionary and social exchange perspectives on relationships: effects of gender, self-appraisal, and involvement level on mate selection criteria. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 64, 951–969.
Long, D., Mueller, J., Wyers, R., Khong, V., & Jones, B. (1996). Effects of gender and dress on helping behavior. Psychological Reports., 78, 987–994.
Lynn, M. (2009). Determinants and consequences of female attractiveness and sexiness: realistic tests with restaurant waitresses. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 38, 737–745.
Manning, J. T., Scutt, D., Whitehouse, G. H., & Leinster, S. J. (1997). Breast asymmetry and phenotypic quality in women. Evolution and Human Behavior, 18, 223–236.
Matz, D. C., & Hinsz, V. B. (2000). Many gentlemen do not prefer blonds: perceptions of, and preferences for, women’s hair color. Paper presented at the 1st meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, Nashville, Tennessee, February 3–6, 2000.
Mermet, G. (2010). Francoscopie. Paris: Larousse.
Millsted, R., & Frith, H. (2003). Being large-breasted: women negotiating embodiment. Women's Studies International Forum, 26, 455–465.
Price, M. K. (2008). Fund-raising success and a solicitor’s beauty capital: do blondes raise more funds? Economics Letters, 100, 351–354.
Shackelford, T. K., Schmitt, D. P., & Buss, D. M. (2005). Universal dimensions of human mate preferences. Personality and Individual Differences, 39, 447–458.
Swami, V., Furnham, A., & Joshi, K. (2008). The influence of skin tone, hair length, and hair colour on ratings of women’s physical attractiveness, health, and fertility. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 49, 429–437.
Swami, V., Rozmus-Wrzesinska, M., Voracek, M., Haubner, T., Danel, D., Pawłowski, B., et al. (2008). The influence of skin tone, body weight and hair colour on perceptions of women’s attractiveness, health and fertility: a cross-cultural investigation. Journal of Evolutionary Psychology, 6, 321–341.
Takeda, M. B., Helms, M. M., & Romanova, N. (2006). Hair color stereotyping and CEO selection in the United Kingdom. Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment, 13, 85–99.
About this article
Cite this article
Guéguen, N. Hair Color and Courtship: Blond Women Received More Courtship Solicitations and Redhead Men Received More Refusals. Psychol Stud 57, 369–375 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12646-012-0158-6
- Hair color
- Courtship behavior