I did a little Googling around and couldn't find the "study," which doesn't mean it doesn't exist (Google doesn't work anymore). But I did find a couple of blog posts by men who prefer long hair. One said that in the past, he has had crushes on women that were squelched overnight when the woman got a short haircut. Poof, attraction gone. Another wrote: "Even when an attractive woman can pull it off, she almost invariably looks even better with long hair."
I find all this rather interesting. Some related thoughts/anecdotes:
- My boyfriend from the ages of 19-25 had long, curly hair. At one point, after we'd been dating for probably two and a half years or so, he decided to cut his hair off, like to normal guy length. Similar to the guy above, I was surprised to find I was instantly less attracted to him. More than that, he seemed suddenly unfamiliar, like he'd been replaced by a lookalike as in Atmospheric Disturbances. Clearly, my attraction to him was tied up in his being "weird," in looking unconventional, the way some men's attraction to a woman is tied up in her looking maximally feminine. (He eventually grew his hair back out.)
- About a month ago I saw a woman with a cute pixie haircut in a museum and suddenly had an urge to cut my hair that way. It seemed really easy. Though we have a good friend with a pixie haircut that he has admired in the past, John didn't like that idea so much. I mentioned it to a few women and without exception, they encouraged me to do it (!).
- If the theory is true, I don't think it's necessarily a conscious thing. Women might seek ways to reduce sexual competition without even being aware they're doing it. And as Dave Gottlieb pointed out, "there may be equilibriums that are better for all women if they can worry less about competing in attractiveness." In other words, it might be a net positive for everyone if some women have short hair. (And there are some men who like short hair.)
- I also feel like there's some kind of vicarious pleasure derived from seeing women do things we're not brave enough to do ourselves. This could be genuine while still getting mixed up with the competition thing. For example, I encourage you to eat the cupcake because I'm not going to let myself do it, but I want someone to eat the cupcake. And hey, if you happen to get fat while doing so, that's no skin off of my nose ...
- Sometimes you don't know you're jealous of someone until something bad happens to them. The schadenfreude tells you who you want to fail.
Also, Twitter is the best.