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Appears in Collections:Psychology Journal Articles
Peer Review Status: Refereed
Title: MHC-heterozygosity and human facial attractiveness
Authors: Roberts, S Craig
Little, Anthony
Gosling, L Morris
Perrett, David I
Carter, Vaughan
Jones, Benedict C
Penton-Voak, Ian S
Petrie, Marion
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Keywords: MHC
mate choice
good genes
Issue Date: May-2005
Publisher: Elsevier
Citation: Roberts SC, Little A, Gosling LM, Perrett DI, Carter V, Jones BC, Penton-Voak IS & Petrie M (2005) MHC-heterozygosity and human facial attractiveness, Evolution and Human Behavior, 26 (3), pp. 213-226.
Abstract: Females gain direct or indirect fitness benefits by choosing between males with traits indicating "good genes," but we usually know very little about the nature of these genes. However, it has been suggested that genetic quality may often be defined as heterozygosity at certain loci. Here, we show that heterozygosity at three key loci in the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) is associated with facial attractiveness: Faces of men who are heterozygous at all three loci are judged more attractive by women than faces of men who are homozygous at one or more of these loci. MHC genes code for proteins involved in immune response. Consistent with this function, faces of MHC heterozygotes are also perceived to be healthier. In a separate test, in the absence of any other cues, patches of skin from the cheeks of heterozygotes are judged healthier than skin of homozygotes, and these ratings correlate with attractiveness judgements for the whole face. Because levels of MHC similarity can influence mate preferences in animals and humans, we conducted a second experiment with genotyped women raters, finding that preferences for heterozygosity are independent of the degree of MHC similarity between the men and the female raters. Our results are the first to directly link facial attractiveness and a measure of genetic quality and suggest a mechanism to help explain common consensus concerning individual attractiveness.
Type: Journal Article
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Rights: The publisher does not allow this work to be made publicly available in this Repository. Please use the Request a Copy feature at the foot of the Repository record to request a copy directly from the author. You can only request a copy if you wish to use this work for your own research or private study.
Affiliation: Psychology
Newcastle University
University of St Andrews
National Blood Service
University of Aberdeen
University of Bristol
Newcastle University

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