Human preferences for facial masculinity change with relationship type and environmental harshness

  title={Human preferences for facial masculinity change with relationship type and environmental harshness},
  author={Anthony C. Little and Danielle L. Cohen and Benedict C. Jones and Jay Belsky},
  journal={Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology},
In humans (Homo sapiens), sexual dimorphism in face shape has been proposed to be linked to quality in both men and women. Although preferences for high-quality mates might be expected, previous work has suggested that high quality may be associated with decreased investment in partnerships. In line with a trade-off between partner quality and investment, human females have been found to prefer higher levels of masculinity when judging under conditions where the benefits of quality would be… 

Men's strategic preferences for femininity in female faces.

It is shown that men prefer more feminine female faces when rating for a short-term relationship and when they have a partner, and that risk of cuckoldry is one factor that may limit men's preferences for femininity in women and could additionally lead to preferences forfemininity in short- term mates.

Human preference for masculinity differs according to context in faces, bodies, voices, and smell

The data suggest that masculinity/femininity as a trait may be assessed via different modalities and that masculinity-femininity in the differentModalities might be representing a single underlying quality in individuals.

Women’s Preferences for Male Facial Features

Due to human biparental care, we might expect few differences in the characteristics that men and women find attractive in opposite-sex faces. Indeed, evidence shows that both men and women prefer

Female reproductive strategy predicts preferences for sexual dimorphism in male faces

Abstract The aim of the current studies was to test an assumption that variation in female preferences for sexually dimorphic male facial characteristics reflects strategic optimisation of investment

Variation in Women’s Preferences Regarding Male Facial Masculinity Is Better Explained by Genetic Differences Than by Previously Identified Context-Dependent Effects

It is shown that the proportion of variation in women’s preferences regarding male facial masculinity that was attributable to genetic variation dwarfed the variation due to the combined effect of contextual factors, which cast doubt on the importance of these context-dependent effects.

Effects of Male Facial Masculinity on Perceived Attractiveness

The results show that women’s sociosexual orientation has a positive correlation with masculinity preference while using hormonal contraception decreases this preference, and the notion that condition-dependent variables have very small effects, if any, on women's preference for masculinity in men is supported.

Social support influences preferences for feminine facial cues in potential social partners.

It is found that women and men randomly allocated to low social support priming conditions demonstrated stronger preferences for feminine shape cues in own- and opposite-sex faces and that people perceived men and women displaying feminine characteristics as more likely to provide them with high-quality social support than those displaying relatively masculine characteristics.

The health of a nation predicts their mate preferences: cross-cultural variation in women's preferences for masculinized male faces

This work investigates the relationship between women's preferences for male facial masculinity and a health index derived from World Health Organization statistics for mortality rates, life expectancies and the impact of communicable disease and shows non-arbitrary cross-cultural differences in facial attractiveness judgements.



Female condition influences preferences for sexual dimorphism in faces of male humans (Homo sapiens).

Investigating whether the covariation between condition and preferences for masculinity would generalize to 2 further measures of female attractiveness: other-rated facial attractiveness and waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) found women with high (unattractive) WHR and/or relatively low other-rating facial attractiveness preferred more "feminine" male faces when choosing faces for a long-term relationship.

Effects of sexual dimorphism on facial attractiveness

The results of asking subjects to choose the most attractive faces from continua that enhanced or diminished differences between the average shape of female and male faces indicate a selection pressure that limits sexual dimorphism and encourages neoteny in humans.

Self-perceived attractiveness influences human female preferences for sexual dimorphism and symmetry in male faces

It is demonstrated that there is a relatively increased preference for masculinity and anIncreased preference for symmetry for women who regard themselves as attractive, which may reflect a condition–dependent mating strategy analogous to behaviours found in other species.

Menstrual cycle alters face preference

It is shown that female preference for secondary sexual traits in male face shapes varies with the probability of conception across the menstrual cycle, similar to that of men with low fluctuating asymmetry.

The role of masculinity and distinctiveness in judgments of human male facial attractiveness.

Averaging in both shape and texture were found to increase attractiveness independently, showing that the increased attractiveness of composites is due to the combined action of these two manipulations, suggestive that masculinity and distinctiveness are separable components in face perception.

Preferences in human mate selection.

In this article we examine preferences in mate choice within the broader context of the human mating system. Specifically, we discuss the consequences of mate preferences for the processes of

Human (Homo sapiens) facial attractiveness and sexual selection: the role of symmetry and averageness.

This is the first study to show that facial symmetry has a positive influence on facial attractiveness ratings, with the exception of the hypothesized effects of averageness of female and male faces on attractiveness ratings.

MHC-dependent mate preferences in humans

The MHC influences both body odours and body odour preferences in humans, and that the women’s preferences depend on their hormonal status, which suggests that the MHC or linked genes influence human mate choice today.

Facial attractiveness

Sexual Selection for Aesthetic Traits in Species with Biparental Care

  • N. Burley
  • Psychology, Biology
    The American Naturalist
  • 1986
It appears that attractive males are sometimes able to transcend a behavioral polygyny threshold by restricting investment in the offspring of one female sufficiently to invest in offspring of a second female, found in the tendency of attractive males to become simultaneous bigamists.