Harrison Ford, seen here as Indiana Jones, has a visible scar on his chin. Researchers say western women may associate scars with health and bravery
Scars may boost a man's sex appeal - but only if a woman is looking for a short relationship.
Women view men with scars as being adventurous, macho and brave, according to Liverpool University research.
But once a woman becomes a mother, she is likely to dump the 'bad boy' in favour of a more caring, sharing sort.
The finding could go some way to explain the allure of film star Harrison Ford, whose scarred chin is the result of a car accident when he was in his 20s.
Academics investigated how scarring might influence how the sexes pick partners for both long-term and short-term relationships.
According to the findings, perhaps unsurprisingly, men find women with or without scars attractive.
Dr Rob Burriss, from the University of Liverpool's School of Biological Sciences, said: 'Male and female participants were shown images of faces that displayed scarring from injury or illness, and were asked to rate how attractive they found the person for long-term and short-term relationships.
'Women may have rated scarring as an attractive quality for short-term relationships because they found it be a symbol of masculinity, a feature that is linked to high testosterone levels and an indicator of good genetic qualities that can be passed on to offspring.
'Men without scars, however, could be seen as more caring and therefore more suitable for long-term relationships.
'The results demonstrate that we may have more in common with non-Western cultures than previously thought.
'The perception that scarring is a sign of strength is a view shared by the Yanomamo tribe of Venezuela for example, who use face-paint to accentuate scars that result from ritualised club fights designed to test a man's endurance against repeated strikes to the head.
'The assumption that scarring is a sign of bravery is also consistent with the historical tradition of academic fencing in Western culture, whereby scarring on a man was often evidence of his courage and ability to withstand an opponent's blow.'
The research is published in the journal of Personality and Individual Differences.You can take the online face preference test at www.oraclelab.co.uk