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Appears in Collections:Psychology Journal Articles
Peer Review Status: Refereed
Title: Symmetry Is Related to Sexual Dimorphism in Faces: Data Across Culture and Species
Author(s): Little, Anthony
Jones, Benedict C
Waitt, Corri
Tiddeman, Bernard P
Feinberg, David R
Perrett, David I
Apicella, Coren L
Marlowe, Frank W
Keywords: faces
Face Anatomy
Sexual attraction
Mate selection
Issue Date: 2008
Date Deposited: 24-Feb-2009
Citation: Little A, Jones BC, Waitt C, Tiddeman BP, Feinberg DR, Perrett DI, Apicella CL & Marlowe FW (2008) Symmetry Is Related to Sexual Dimorphism in Faces: Data Across Culture and Species. PLoS ONE, 3 (5), p. e2106.
Abstract: Summary Background Many animals both display and assess multiple signals. Two prominently studied traits are symmetry and sexual dimorphism, which, for many animals, are proposed cues to heritable fitness benefits. These traits are associated with other potential benefits, such as fertility. In humans, the face has been extensively studied in terms of attractiveness. Faces have the potential to be advertisements of mate quality and both symmetry and sexual dimorphism have been linked to the attractiveness of human face shape. Methodology/Principal Findings Here we show that measurements of symmetry and sexual dimorphism from faces are related in humans, both in Europeans and African hunter-gatherers, and in a non-human primate. Using human judges, symmetry measurements were also related to perceived sexual dimorphism. In all samples, symmetric males had more masculine facial proportions and symmetric females had more feminine facial proportions. Conclusions/Significance Our findings support the claim that sexual dimorphism and symmetry in faces are signals advertising quality by providing evidence that there must be a biological mechanism linking the two traits during development. Such data also suggests that the signalling properties of faces are universal across human populations and are potentially phylogenetically old in primates.
DOI Link: 10.1371/journal.pone.0002106
Rights: Published by The Public Library of Science (PLoS). PLoS applies the Creative Commons Attribution License (CCAL) to all works they publish (read the human-readable summary at: or the full license legal code at: Under the CCAL, authors retain ownership of the copyright for their article, but authors allow anyone to download, reuse, reprint, modify, distribute, and/or copy articles in PLoS journals, so long as the original authors and source are cited.
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