Why has the baldness trait persisted?

I understand that baldness is a side effect of testosterone, etc. etc. What I don’t understand is why this trait hasn’t disappeared in human males. Baldness is universally considered unattractive, Why hasn’t selection pressure decreased the incidence of baldness to non-existence over the millenia?

Is it possible that baldness is a recent develpment?

Cause it happens too late in life. I would think anything that happens after the age of twenty would tend to be insignificant in reproduction, historically (and pre-historically).

In a sense, I think it is. It’s only relatively recently that large numbers of people have started living long enough to go bald. In fact, the reason we go bald is likely that nature just sorta hasn’t adjusted to us surviving until 70-something. Actually (to propose another theory), by the time most men go bald, they’ve already reproduced and passed on their genes (especially since people used to start having children earlier) - so baldness wouldn’t really matter in that sense.

Rusalka writes: “Baldness is universally considered unattractive,”

Tell that to Andre Agassi, Ben Kingsley, Yul Brynner, Ed Harris, or Patrick Stewart.

Maybe because people usually marry and procreate before the baldness trait kicks in?

Besides, if a man dresses his hair/head properly, partial baldness is not necessarily unattractive.

Sorry about this, but
Your view of baldness is probably something that you have learned from your upbringing and culture. I doubt that we have any idea what our ancestors felt about baldness in the last 100,000 years.

For an example of two extremes of cultural indoctrination about baldness check out this site and read how different cultures interpret baldness in contrasting ways.

Sorry about this, but
Your view of baldness is probably something that you have learned from your upbringing and culture. I doubt that we have any idea what our ancestors felt about baldness in the last 100,000 years.

For an example of two extremes of cultural indoctrination about baldness check out this site and read how different cultures interpret baldness in contrasting ways.

Bald people often still shag and have kids. So the trait lives on.

Ok, let me clarify: Baldness seems to be most common among men who are “Caucasian”. I have never heard of a culture where baldness is looked upon as a plus - have you? I can’t prove it, but the idea of baldness not being attractive seems to be one of those non-negotiables among women nowadays. All else being equal, do you know any woman who would pick a bald man over one with hair? Giving examples of movie stars, etc, doesn’t count because those men aren’t being chosen as attractive because of their baldness, but rather in spite of their baldness.

Also, many men exhibit baldness early, and men can have children late in life. Our ancestor’s “life expectancy” usually was figured from birth. Contrary to popular belief many of our ancestors lived long lives, so the idea that “baldness appears after child fathering age” is not much of an argument and the mere fact that bald men will have fewer chances for procreation, should, in the long run spell the end of the baldness trait. So why didn’t it? Is it only a cultural thing?

“hair falling out” could be interpreted as a sign of sickness, or non-fitness. Sociologists constantly talk about men’s ideas of female attractiveness evolving from signs of fitness and youth, so why doesn’t the same apply in the case of baldness?

I am 26 years of age, with a significantly receded hairline (think Bill Murray, Phil Collins, etc.)

My hair started to fall out when I was 18.

I haven’t had a date in two years, although admittedly, I haven’t been going out of my way to talk to anybody.

For what it’s worth…


Maybe this doesn’t count, but have you watched a pro basketball game lately? Everybody is bald except Ben Wallace. :stuck_out_tongue: Baldness has at least lost enough stigma that some people intentionally go hairless as a fashion statement. Real baldness may not be as desireable because it connotes age, but it’s probably a little less of an issue.
Men can have kids until much later in life than women, but again, until recently they weren’t living long enough to use all of that ‘potential.’ Living was more of a ‘get in, reproduce get out’ kind of a deal. :wink:

Hair falling out is an effect of testosterone in most cases, as explained above, so why would women select against it? It sometimes happens from sickness, but compared to the number of guys who go bald with no sickness involved, this is a minority of cases. Women can select a bald man with the reasonable assumption that he has lots of testosterone, which will bode well for his other manly traits.

You’re convinced that women find it unattractive, but I don’t think that is the case. I like it, and so do many others. I’ve never heard of a woman turning down a guy with the rationale “Well, he’s handsome and clever and fun, but he’s bald, so tough luck”. Don’t assume that your predjudices are held by everyone.

There may be some selective pressure against baldness, but it’s not strong enough to have eliminated it completely. Besides, it’s recessive in females, which makes it harder.

Isn’t Male Pattern Baldness carried thru the mother’s genes? (Like some forms of color-blindness)

We’re living in a comparitively pampered age, and you’re trying to look back in history thru your ‘modern’ eyes.

For much of history, a woman did not ‘pick’ a man, one was picked for her by her family & his; she had little or no say in the matter. (Nor did the man, in most cases.)

And in the brutally hard life that most people lived thru most of history, a woman who did get to pick he man had more important things to worry about than the amount of hair on his head.

Like is he a good enough provider to keep me and our children from starving to death in winter? Does he look health enough to live until our children are grown? Is he strong enough to protect me from the enemy? Etc.

Only in modern times have our lives become comfortable and safe enough for people to consider “looks” so important in choosing a life-mate.

Let’s try this again.

  1. I’m not talking about my choices, but what I’ve observed in others and culture and writings going back quite a ways. I’ve never seen male pattern baldness (as opposed to shaving your head) extolled as a desirable trait anywhere anytime. I thought it was a reasonable assumption that it’s universally not desirable, the same way a voluptuous woman is universally desirable. If anyone knows of a culture where baldness is revered above a full head of hair, please share.

  2. Beauty has nothing to do with whether or not you can bear many children, yet men select for certain “beauty” and “youth” traits according to sociologists. I am applying the same principle to the other sex with this question. Telling me baldness has nothing to do with fitness is immaterial. People don’t always make conscious choices based on fitness, otherwise men would always pick the smartest female instead of the most beautiful one.

Maybe the recessive trait is the key. Is baldness completely dependent on the mother?


Sociobiologists have a theory that men are bigger and taller and darker skinned than their female counterparts and have the ability to grow beards, because that’s what women chose throughout the ages. Bigger and taller, and beardednes are still desirable traits today. Male pattern baldness is not. Why?

The important point here is that all else never is equal, never.

So women never find themselves in your hypothetical situation of choice.

Well, we could make the same arguments about fat-assed women. My sister swelled up to the size of a cow after she got married, but my brother -in-law still didn’t mind impregnating her. Obviously, neither men nor women are quite as superficial as you seem to think.

And as for what Marley23 said, thank you, Michael Jordan! The man did for baldness what Marilyn Monroe did for blondness and big breasts.

Well, bigger, and taller, and beardedness, AND male pattern baldness are all linked to testosterone hormone levels.

So they come together, as a package.

And that happens regardless of whether you, or me, or sociobioligists, or women throughout the ages think them desirable traits or undesirable.

I certainly can’t explain what traits women find desirable, or why! Not sure anybody can.
P.S. Beardedness is a desirable trait? Don’t have any statistics, but I’d say only about 25% of men have a beard – 75% of men spend time every single day shaving it off. (Note that we have some active threads here on SD Forums about what kind of razor is best for this.)