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Title: Does masculinity matter? The contribution of masculine face shape to male attractiveness in humans
Authors: Scott, IML
Pound, N
Stephen, ID
Clark, AP
Penton-Voak, IS
Keywords: Facial attractiveness;Sexual-dimorphism;Immunocompetence handicap;Evolutionary psychology;Physical attractiveness;Perceived health;Testosterone;Perception;Symmetry;Colour
Issue Date: 2010
Publisher: Public Library of Science
Citation: PLoS ONE, 5(10): e13585, 2010
Abstract: Background: In many animals, exaggerated sex-typical male traits are preferred by females, and may be a signal of both past and current disease resistance. The proposal that the same is true in humans - i.e., that masculine men are immunocompetent and attractive - underpins a large literature on facial masculinity preferences. Recently, theoretical models have suggested that current condition may be a better index of mate value than past immunocompetence. This is particularly likely in populations where pathogenic fluctuation is fast relative to host life history. As life history is slow in humans, there is reason to expect that, among humans, condition-dependent traits might contribute more to attractiveness than relatively stable traits such as masculinity. To date, however, there has been little rigorous assessment of whether, in the presence of variation in other cues, masculinity predicts attractiveness or not.Methodology/Principal Findings: The relationship between masculinity and attractiveness was assessed in two samples of male faces. Most previous research has assessed masculinity either with subjective ratings or with simple anatomical measures. Here, we used geometric morphometric techniques to assess facial masculinity, generating a morphological masculinity measure based on a discriminant function that correctly classified >96% faces as male or female. When assessed using this measure, there was no relationship between morphological masculinity and rated attractiveness. In contrast, skin colour - a fluctuating, condition-dependent cue - was a significant predictor of attractiveness.Conclusions/Significance: These findings suggest that facial morphological masculinity may contribute less to men's attractiveness than previously assumed. Our results are consistent with the hypothesis that current condition is more relevant to male mate value than past disease resistance, and hence that temporally fluctuating traits (such as colour) contribute more to male attractiveness than stable cues of sexual dimorphism.
Description: Copyright: © 2010 Scott et al.
ISSN: 1932-6203
Appears in Collections:Psychology
Dept of Life Sciences Research Papers

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