- firm belief in the reliability, truth, or ability of someone or something.
Trust, is often a difficult concept. How do you know who you can trust? Can you tell based on outward appearance? For instance, can you trust someone who covers up their natural looks? How would beards fit into this? On the one hand, they could be considered the least contrived accessory on a man – having let nature take its course uninterrupted on his chin; on the other, they obscure the face as though the wearer has something to hide.
The “Trustworthiness of Beards” chart, shown above, did the rounds a few years ago and though created very much with tongue in (hairy) cheek, it highlights a fascination with the meaning of facial hair that has persisted for centuries, not least during the Victorian beard craze.
Several recent studies have looked at this too. A 2011 study published in the Journal of Marketing Communications found that “bearded endorsers” in advertising were “perceived to be more credible and to have a positive influence on purchase intention”. Whilst another, reported by the Telegraph last October, stated that bearded men were 27% more likely to be unfaithful in relationships.
We’ve been asking visitors to the exhibition to record their opinions on feedback cards and so far, there has been a mixed response to the question: “Can you/should you trust a bearded man?”…
Many have used humour to convey their opinion, with answers such as:
“Yes because if he has the patience to grow out a beard he’s got the patience to deal with you!”
“Depends if he is good looking”
It has proven to be quite a divisive topic, with most choosing firmly which side of the fence they sit:
“Yes, with every fibre of your being!”
“Yes, if you know anyone well why should their face make them untrustworthy?”
“No, bearded men are evil, obviously they have a beard…”
Others remain perched upon it:
“It depends but don’t trust a book by a cover”
“Depends on the beard!”
We’ll be collating these responses at the end of the exhibition run to explore the meaning of beards in the present day. Be sure to pop along and fill in a card to have your thoughts included!