Leading article: Brunette ambition

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A study by City University appears to confirm this trend. They found that presenting a group of men with a picture of the same woman but with different colour hair (brunette, red-headed, blonde) elicited different responses. And it was the brunette who was deemed the most attractive by just over half of the men questioned.

But before any blonde readers start reaching for the hair dye, consider that 81 per cent of the men in the survey described the brunette in the picture as "intelligent", but the same woman pictured with blonde hair as "needy". That would seem to indicate that we are not dealing with the most sophisticated group of male subjects here. Judging someone by the colour of their hair may, as researchers say, have had some uses in neolithic times but has rather less practical value today.

And why this emphasis on female hair colour? Shouldn't those researchers have performed the same experiment on female tastes? Perhaps ladies no longer hanker after someone "tall, dark and handsome". Men deserve to be told.

So which is it, ladies? Johnny Depp or Brad Pitt? Simon Jones or Freddie Flintoff? Gordon Brown or Boris Johnson? Answers on a postcard, please.

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