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Appears in Collections:Psychology Journal Articles
Peer Review Status: Refereed
Title: Symmetry and sexual dimorphism in human faces: interrelated preferences suggest both signal quality
Author(s): Little, Anthony
Jones, Benedict C
DeBruine, Lisa M
Feinberg, David R
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Keywords: faces
Face Anatomy
Sex differences (Psychology)
Sexual attraction
Issue Date: 2008
Date Deposited: 20-Feb-2009
Citation: Little A, Jones BC, DeBruine LM & Feinberg DR (2008) Symmetry and sexual dimorphism in human faces: interrelated preferences suggest both signal quality. Behavioral Ecology, 19 (4), pp. 902-908.
Abstract: Symmetry and masculinity in human faces have been proposed to be cues to the quality of the owner. Accordingly, symmetry is generally found attractive in male and female faces and femininity is attractive in female faces. Women’s preferences for male facial masculinity vary in ways that may maximise genetic benefits to women’s offspring. Here we examine same- and opposite-sex preferences for both traits (Study 1) and intercorrelations between preferences for symmetry and sexual dimorphism in faces (Study 1, Study 2) using computer manipulated faces. For symmetry, we found that male and female judges preferred symmetric faces more when judging faces of the opposite-sex than when judging same-sex faces. A similar pattern was seen for sexual dimorphism (i.e. women preferred more masculine male faces than men did), but women also showed stronger preferences for femininity in female faces than men reported. This suggests that women are more concerned with female femininity than are men. We also found that in women preferences for symmetry were positively correlated with preferences for masculinity in male faces and that in men preferences for symmetry were positively correlated with preferences for femininity in female faces. These latter findings suggest that symmetry and sexual dimorphism advertise a common quality in faces or that preferences for these facial cues are dependent on a common quality in the judges. Collectively, our findings support the view that preferences for symmetry and sexual dimorphism are related to mechanisms involved in sexual selection and mate choice rather than functionless by-products of other perceptual mechanisms.
DOI Link: 10.1093/beheco/arn049
Rights: Published in Behavioral Ecology by Oxford Journals, Oxford University Press. This is a pre-copy-editing, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in Behavioral Ecology following peer review. The definitive publisher-authenticated version Behavioral Ecology 2008 19(4):902-908 is available online at:

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