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Appears in Collections:Psychology Journal Articles
Peer Review Status: Refereed
Title: Men With a Terminal Illness Relax Their Criteria for Facial Attractiveness
Author(s): Danel, Dariusz P
Siennicka, Agnieszka E
Fedurek, Pawel
Frackowiak, Tomasz
Sorokowski, Piotr
Jankowska, Ewa A
Pawlowski, Boguslaw
Keywords: facial attractiveness
sexual selection
life history paradigm
terminal illness
heart failure
Issue Date: 1-Jul-2017
Date Deposited: 8-Jan-2019
Citation: Danel DP, Siennicka AE, Fedurek P, Frackowiak T, Sorokowski P, Jankowska EA & Pawlowski B (2017) Men With a Terminal Illness Relax Their Criteria for Facial Attractiveness. American Journal of Men's Health, 11 (4), pp. 1247-1254.
Abstract: According to the life history paradigm, in life-threatening conditions, sexual selection criteria are relaxed in order to increase the probability of a last resort reproduction, ultimately contributing to reproductive success. This should be reflected in loosened mating preferences — a process observed in nonhuman animals. Studies investigating this aspect in humans, however, are scarce. This study explored the aesthetic preferences towards facial and nonfacial stimuli in terminally ill patients with heart failure (HF) and their healthy, same-sex peers. The aim was to examine if these two groups of men demonstrate different patterns of aesthetic judgments. Using a 7-point scale, 65 male patients with HF and 143 healthy men evaluated the perceived attractiveness of 15 photographs (five adult male faces, five adult female faces, and five nonfacial pictures). A mixed-design analysis of variance was run to assess group differences in aesthetic preferences. Compared to healthy controls, stimuli. HF patients rated the pictures using significantly higher scores, but this applied only to male and female, but not nonfacial, stimuli. We propose that lower criteria for facial attractiveness in HF patients are linked to relaxation of mate preferences as a result of a life-threatening conditions, and that this process can be an adaptive mating strategy from an ultimate, evolutionary perspective. However, other mechanisms (e.g., seeking social support) may be also responsible for the observed patterns.
DOI Link: 10.1177/1557988317692504
Rights: This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 License ( which permits non-commercial use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access page(
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