ArticlePDF Available

The effects of facial hair manipulation on female perceptions of attractiveness, masculinity, and dominance in male faces


Abstract and Figures

The aim of this study was to examine the effects of systematic alterations in male facial hair on female perceptions. A within-subjects design employed one condition (facial hair) incorporating five levels (clean-shaven, light stubble, heavy stubble, light beard and full beard). All levels were applied to three different facial designs, constructed using FACES software. The resulting 15 male faces were rated by 60 females on various attributes. Male faces displaying a full beard were considered the most masculine, aggressive, socially mature, and older. Males with a light beard were considered the most dominant. Males with light stubble were considered to be the most attractive, light stubble was also preferred for both short- and long-term relationships. These findings are discussed in terms of age preferences and good-genes models.
Content may be subject to copyright.
This article appeared in a journal published by Elsevier. The attached
copy is furnished to the author for internal non-commercial research
and education use, including for instruction at the authors institution
and sharing with colleagues.
Other uses, including reproduction and distribution, or selling or
licensing copies, or posting to personal, institutional or third party
websites are prohibited.
In most cases authors are permitted to post their version of the
article (e.g. in Word or Tex form) to their personal website or
institutional repository. Authors requiring further information
regarding Elsevier’s archiving and manuscript policies are
encouraged to visit:
Author's personal copy
The effects of facial hair manipulation on female perceptions of attractiveness,
masculinity, and dominance in male faces
Nick Neave
, Kerry Shields
Division of Psychology, School of Psychology and Sport Sciences, Northumbria University, Northumberland Building, City Campus, Newcastle upon Tyne, Tyne and Wear NE1 8ST, UK
article info
Article history:
Received 31 January 2008
Received in revised form 8 May 2008
Accepted 13 May 2008
Available online 24 June 2008
Mate preferences
Facial hair
The aim of this study was to examine the effects of systematic alterations in male facial hair on female
perceptions. A within-subjects design employed one condition (facial hair) incorporating five levels
(clean-shaven, light stubble, heavy stubble, light beard and full beard). All levels were applied to three
different facial designs, constructed using FACES software. The resulting 15 male faces were rated by
60 females on various attributes. Male faces displaying a full beard were considered the most masculine,
aggressive, socially mature, and older. Males with a light beard were considered the most dominant.
Males with light stubble were considered to be the most attractive, light stubble was also preferred for
both short- and long-term relationships. These findings are discussed in terms of age preferences and
good-genes models.
Ó2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
1. Introduction
Certain physical and behavioural features are thought to be
adaptations arising via intersexual selection – the tendency of
members of one sex to preferentially select certain members of
the opposite sex as mating partners (Buss & Barnes, 1986). Darwin
referred to intersexual selection as ‘female choice’, because in
many species females are more selective in their mate choices than
males, and this is thought to reflect differences in parental invest-
ment and reproductive success (Buss & Schmitt, 1993). Female ani-
mals prefer males who display certain physical characteristics.
These features are assumed to be under the control of the gonadal
sex-steroids beginning at puberty when the individual enters the
reproductive market. These features are thought to form ‘honest’
signals, because the sex-steroids also have immunosuppressant
actions, and only individuals in good health and with efficient
immune systems can cope with the ‘handicap’ of producing and
maintaining such signals (Folstad & Karter, 1992; Zahavi, 1975).
In humans, various facial and bodily characteristics are thought
to form a single (condition dependent) sexual ornament advertis-
ing health and fertility (Fink & Neave, 2005; Thornhill & Gangestad,
1993; Thornhill & Grammer, 1999). Much research utilising a range
of methodologies has focused upon facial and bodily attractiveness
(for review see Etcoff, 1999) and considerable research has been di-
rected towards those facial characteristics that appear to influence
perceptions of attractiveness. For example, researchers have dis-
cussed the significant effects of facial averageness and symmetry
on judgements of attractiveness (for reviews see Fink & Neave,
2005; Rhodes, 2006). An additional feature thought to be of impor-
tance for females’ rating male faces relates to sexual dimorphism,
i.e. the degree of masculinity expressed by various facial features.
Testosterone (in association with growth hormone at puberty) is
assumed to affect a number of facial features that determine per-
ceived masculinity, in particular the lateral growth of the cheek-
bones, jawbone and chin, the forward growth of the eyebrow
ridges, and the lengthening of the lower face, leading to a more ro-
bust face shape. The absence of androgens, or the presence of
estrogens is thought to lead to a more gracile face shape with high
eyebrows, smaller and more rounded jaw line, and fuller lips
(Enlow, 1996). Masculinized facial features that have developed
as a consequence of higher levels of circulating testosterone (or
greater receptor sensitivity to existing levels) are thought to act
as honest indicators of good genes (Thornhill & Gangestad, 1993).
Female preferences for masculine traits in male faces is
however equivocal. Ratings of attractiveness have been found to
positively correlate with masculinity (e.g. Cunningham, Barbee, &
Pike, 1990; Neave, Laing, Fink, & Manning, 2003). In addition, some
studies have reported an overall preference for masculinized male
faces (Johnson, Hagel, Franklin, Fink, & Grammer, 2001; Keating,
1985) and that certain masculine features (e.g. large chins) are
attractive in male faces (Cunningham et al., 1990; Grammer &
Thornhill, 1994; Scheib, Gangestad, & Thornhill, 1999). However,
other studies have indicated that females prefer more feminized
0191-8869/$ - see front matter Ó2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
*Corresponding author. Tel.: +44 191 2274476; fax: +44 191 2273190.
E-mail address: (N. Neave).
Personality and Individual Differences 45 (2008) 373–377
Contents lists available at ScienceDirect
Personality and Individual Differences
journal homepage:
Author's personal copy
male faces (e.g. Penton-Voak, Jacobson, & Trivers, 2004) and it has
been suggested that such preferences may reflect desirability for
more positive personality traits, indicating a more reliable partner
and a potentially better parent (Perrett et al., 1998). A possible con-
found here relates to the fact that female preferences for male faces
may not remain static, but instead may fluctuate across the men-
strual cycle depending upon the female’s fertility. Thus, prefer-
ences for masculinity (in short-term partners) appear to peak
around ovulation when the female is at maximum fertility
(Penton-Voak & Perrett, 2000; Penton-Voak et al., 1999); this fluc-
tuation in masculine preferences being argued to reflect a good-
genes model (Gangestad, Garver-Apgar, Simpson, & Cousins, 2007).
The focus of this current study is not facial masculinity per se,
but rather on one signal of facial masculinity. The presence of facial
hair (‘beardedness’), is a powerful sociosexual signal, and an obvi-
ous biological marker of sexual maturity (Randall, 2004). In evolu-
tionary terms this sexually dimorphic trait provides no obvious
survival advantages for a male, but is a likely candidate for sexual
selection (Barber, 1995). Guthrie (1970) suggested its value in sig-
nalling aggression during inter-male fighting, perhaps by the per-
ceived enhancement of the lower jaw, emphasising the teeth as
weapons. This indicates that facial hair may have been sexually
selected by females on the basis of associated male success, despite
its threatening appearance. Clean-shaven faces therefore may sug-
gest appeasement, as well as being an obvious sign of sexual
immaturity (Guthrie, 1970). Research to date has indicated that
female attitudes towards male facial hair are not always consis-
tent, some studies report positive associations between facial hair
and certain behavioural/personality attributes, whilst others find
negative associations.
For example, Kenny and Fletcher (1973) reported that bearded
males were considered more enthusiastic, sincere, generous, extra-
verted, masculine, inquisitive, and stronger than clean-shaven
males. Pellegrini (1973) noted that attributions of masculinity,
maturity, attractiveness, dominance, self-confidence, and courage
were enhanced as the extent of beardedness increased from
clean-shaven to moustache, and through goatee to full beard. Sim-
ilarly, Addison (1989) found that bearded males were perceived as
being more masculine, aggressive, and dominant than clean-
shaven men. Reed and Blunk (1990) reported that facial hair led
to increased perceptions of attractiveness, competency and com-
posure. Alternatively, Feinman and Gill (1977) found that females
expressed dislike for a potential partner possessing a full beard;
however, these results were obtained via vignettes that provided
only written descriptions of the males.
Muscarella and Cunningham (1996) examined the effects of fa-
cial and cranial hair manipulation on physical and social percep-
tions. Two levels of facial hair were employed, short dark beard
and clean-shaven. Different combinations of facial and cranial hair
were applied to six male faces (using wigs and fake facial hair) the
resulting photographs then being rated by females. Males with fa-
cial hair were perceived as being more aggressive, older, less
attractive, and were subject to reduced perceptions of social matu-
rity in comparison to clean-shaven faces. Wogalter and Hosie
(2001) demonstrated that clean-shaven faces were regarded as
being significantly more youthful, attractive, and sociable than
bearded faces. Finally, Shannon and Stark (2003) reported equivo-
cal results for beardedness and attractiveness, and failed to show
that facial hair was associated with negative personal attributes.
A likely explanation for the somewhat conflicting results de-
scribed above relates to the different methodologies employed to
display facial hair. Some studies have only employed two levels –
clean-shaven versus full beard (e.g. Addison, 1989; Kenny &
Fletcher, 1973; Wogalter & Hosie, 2001), whilst others have used
more conditions: Reed and Blunk (1990) and Shannon and Stark
(2003) had three levels, whilst Pellegrini (1973) had four levels
of facial hair. All studies have employed different methodologies
to create and present the stimuli. Thus, Pellegrini (1973) used pho-
tographs, Reed and Blunk (1990) used drawings, Wogalter and
Hosie (2001) and Shannon and Stark (2003) employed specialist
computer software.
An additional factor to consider is that whilst evolutionary the-
ories emphasise the importance of male status and dominance in
male attractiveness, research actually suggests that this only holds
true up to a certain point. On one hand, a female might desire a
male who is strong, mature, and dominant, but is also perhaps
seeking a faithful, cooperative, and caring partner. Indeed, it has
been shown that male faces combining elements of both mature
and childlike features are perceived as being the most attractive
(Cunningham et al., 1990). Previous studies assessing the impact
of facial hair of female perceptions of male faces have typically
utilised conditions including clean-shaven, moustache, and full
beards, faces with varying degrees of stubble have not been
assessed. Stubble indicates that whilst a face is not immature, it
is also not strongly masculine (i.e. it signals the potential to grow
a full beard), then it is important to assess female perceptions of
male faces varying in facial hair covering the full range of
Therefore, in this study we assess female perceptions of male
faces with five levels of facial hair (clean-shaven, light stubble, hea-
vy stubble, light beard and full beard). In line with the majority of
previous studies we predict a linear positive relationship between
the extent of facial hair and perceptions of aggression, masculinity,
dominance, social maturity and perceived age. For ratings of
attractiveness however we assume a non-linear (inverted
U-shaped) relationship, i.e. that faces with stubble (either light or
heavy) will receive the most positive ratings, whilst clean-shaven
and bearded faces will receive the lowest ratings. As previous stud-
ies have indicated that females prefer more strongly masculinized
faces in a short-term partner (e.g. Little, Jones, Penton-Voak, Burt,
& Perrett, 2002) then we assume that the clean-shaven face will re-
ceive the lowest rating as a preferred short-term partner, but make
no specific predictions concerning the extent of stubble/beard in
this regard. Similarly, as less masculinized attributes are preferred
in a long-term partner (e.g. Waynforth, Delwadia, & Camm, 2005)
we assume lower ratings as facial hair increases, but note that
the clean-shaven face (perhaps perceived as being too immature)
might also receive low ratings.
2. Methods
2.1. Participants
The sample comprised 76 female undergraduates from North-
umbria University, UK, aged 18–44 (mean = 21.7, SD = 5.20), 16
acted as raters in an initial pilot phase to establish the final pool
of faces, the remaining 60 acted as participants in the final rating
phase. All were obtained by means of opportunity sampling and
did not receive payment for their participation.
2.2. Materials and procedure
The male faces used as stimuli were created using FACES, a soft-
ware programme enabling the construction of realistic faces from a
large database of facial features. This software has been used pre-
viously to create stimuli for this type of research (Shannon & Stark,
2003). The faces were constructed to have an apparent age be-
tween 18 and 25. In order to ensure that the final set of faces were
equivalent in terms of general attractiveness, in an initial phase 10
clean-shaven male faces were constructed. Females (N= 16) then
rated them for attractiveness using a Likert-type scale (1 = very
374 N. Neave, K. Shields / Personality and Individual Differences 45 (2008) 373–377
Author's personal copy
unattractive, 9 = extremely attractive). Three faces were then se-
lected as they were rated equivalently in terms of attraction (each
scoring on average between 5.9 and 6.2 on the scale).
For each of the three faces facial hair was systematically and
equivalently altered to give five conditions (clean-shaven, light
stubble, heavy stubble, light beard and full beard), resulting in 15
faces in total. See Fig. 1 for an example of the faces. Each face
was then presented in a randomised order and rated (using a
7-point scale) by the remaining female participants (N= 60) on
the following sociosexual variables: masculinity, aggression, dom-
inance, attractiveness, social maturity. In addition, the participants
also stated the extent to which the male would be desirable for a
romantic partner in a short-term and a long-term relationship,
and finally gave an indication of how old (in years) they thought
the male was. Following the provision of written informed consent,
participants were tested alone in a laboratory cubicle and the rat-
ing took approximately 15 min. Each participant was fully de-
briefed afterwards. The protocol received approval from the
School of Psychology and Sport Sciences Ethics Committee.
2.3. Statistical analyses
We used a one-way repeated-measures ANOVA with five levels
(extent of facial hair) to analyse the data, with raters acting as the
unit of analysis. That is, we used for each participant, each level of
beardedness, and each rated attribute converted to a mean score
across all three faces. For those attributes for which we expected
a linear effect (i.e. masculinity, dominance, aggression, social
maturity, and age), the linear contrast was tested. For all other
attributes (i.e. attractiveness, preference as a short-term partner,
preference as a long-term partner) we used the omnibus Ftest.
Whenever this was significant, we used pairwise comparisons to
test for significant differences between adjacent levels of the
We did not calculate effect-sizes from Fvalues because these
stem from a repeated-measures design and effect-sizes derived
from a repeated-measures design are highly ambiguous. Therefore,
we calculated all effect-sizes as if a between-subjects design had
been employed. In this way, the effect-sizes are smaller but more
meaningful (Hönekopp, Becker, & Oswald, 2006). For those attri-
butes for which we expected linear relationships, we computed r
, i.e. the correlation between the scores and the ordinal
number of facial hair condition (Rosenthal, Rosnow, & Rubin,
2000). For the other attributes, for which we had less clear expec-
tations, we computed Cohen’s dbetween those two facial hair lev-
els that gave rise to the highest and lowest ratings.
3. Results
In all ANOVAs, for those attributes for which we did not expect
a linear relationship, Mauchly’s test of sphericity was significant,
therefore the Fstatistics reported in these analyses are Huynh–
Feldt corrected. Initial analyses confirmed that the three faces
did not differ on any ratings at any level of facial hair, therefore rat-
ings were collapsed so that subsequent analyses were conducted
on average ratings for each level of facial hair. Pairwise compari-
sons were computed at the 95% confidence interval.
We hypothesised that perceptions of masculinity, dominance,
aggression, social maturity, and age would show a linear relation
with extent of facial hair, and these hypotheses were confirmed.
Thus, ratings of masculinity showed a significant linear increase as
the amount of facial hair present increased (F
= 85.469, p< .001,
= .50), as did ratings for dominance (F
= 96.671,
p< .001, r
= .50); aggression (F
= 48.747, p< .001,
= .45); social maturity (F
= 57.977, p< .001, r
.50) and age (F
= 123.530, p< .001, r
= .61) (see Table 1).
We further hypothesised that attractiveness ratings would dis-
play a non-linear relationship, with stubble (either light or heavy)
perhaps receiving the most positive ratings, and once more this
was confirmed. Thus, for perceptions of attractiveness, there was
a significant main effect of level of facial hair (F
= 19.856, p< .001). The level of facial hair considered most attrac-
tive was light stubble, the least attractive being full beard
(d= 0.85). Pairwise comparisons indicated that there were signifi-
cant differences between the following adjacent levels of facial
hair, clean-shaven and light stubble (p< .001), heavy stubble and
full beard (p< .001) (see Table 1).
With regard to preferences for engaging in a relationship with
the individual, a significant main effect was found for a short-term
relationship (F
= 15.777, p< .001) with males displaying
light stubble being most favoured, and males displaying a full
Fig. 1. An example of one of the faces used in the current study with each stage of facial hair represented.
Table 1
Mean ratings for each attribute by level of facial hair (SDs are in parentheses)
Clean-shaven Light stubble Dark stubble Light beard Full beard
Masculinity 3.34 (1.08) 4.14 (.93) 4.52 (.79) 4.79 (.85) 4.92 (.94)
Attractiveness 3.59 (1.01) 4.24 (1.03) 4.15 (.83) 4.02 (.91) 3.40 (.97)
Dominance 3.10 (.95) 3.88 (.75) 4.13 (.78) 4.58 (.87) 4.54 (.89)
Aggression 2.72 (.98) 3.07 (.71) 3.58 (.75) 3.68 (.85) 3.96 (.95)
Social maturity 3.41 (.92) 4.01 (.93) 4.13 (.81) 4.40 (.79) 4.54 (.90)
Short-term relationship 3.28 (1.30) 3.86 (1.18) 3.778 (1.10) 3.69 (1.20) 2.95 (1.02)
Long-term relationship 2.81 (1.25) 3.60 (1.22) 3.57 (1.17) 3.51 (1.11) 3.19 (1.27)
Perceived age 21.24 (2.30) 23.67 (1.90) 24.88 (2.00) 25.48 (2.37) 26.86 (3.20)
N. Neave, K. Shields / Personality and Individual Differences 45 (2008) 373–377 375
Author's personal copy
beard being least favoured (d= 0.83). Pairwise comparisons of
adjacent factor levels reveal significant differences between
clean-shaven and light stubble, light beard and full beard (both
p< .001). In addition, a significant main effect for a long-term rela-
tionship was found (F
= 11.794, p< .001), with males dis-
playing light stubble being most favoured and clean-shaven males
being least favoured (d= 0.65). Pairwise comparisons indicate that
there were significant differences in ratings between clean-shaven
and light stubble (p< .001), also heavy stubble and full beard
(p= .045) (see Table 1).
4. Discussion
Previous studies have clearly demonstrated that male facial hair
can have a significant influence on female perceptions of male
sociosexual attributes. However, the evidence has been somewhat
equivocal, with some studies reporting facial hair to have a positive
influence, whilst others revealing it to have a more negative influ-
ence. This is perhaps due to the fact that previous studies have em-
ployed different methodologies to create the faces, and have used
few levels of facial hair (usually clean-shaven versus a full beard).
In this study we constructed a series of male faces possessing five
levels of facial hair in order to more carefully assess the potential
effects of facial hair manipulation on female sociosexual attribu-
tions. Importantly, we included faces with two degrees of stubble
(light and heavy) and two degrees of beardedness (light and full)
in order to assess the notion that characteristics signalling a certain
degree of masculinity (stubble) might be preferred over character-
istics signalling very low (clean-shaven) or very high masculinity
(bearded). Using this improved methodology we confirm findings
from previous studies that facial hair does have a significant im-
pact upon such perceptions (e.g. Addison, 1989; Cunningham
et al., 1990; Feinman & Gill, 1977; Muscarella & Cunningham,
1996; Pellegrini, 1973; Reed & Blunk, 1990; Shannon & Stark,
2003; Wogalter & Hosie, 2001).
In short, we find that our hypotheses were supported, with level
of facial hair being associated with alterations in female percep-
tions. Thus, as facial hair increased in a linear fashion so did female
ratings of masculinity and dominance, and such findings are in
accord with previous research (Addison, 1989; Kenny & Fletcher
1973; Pellegrini, 1973). In addition, increasing levels of facial hair
were associated with increased perceptions of aggression in that
bearded faces were perceived as being the most aggressive, whilst
clean-shaven faces were rated as being the least aggressive. Once
more, this finding is in accord with previous studies (Addison,
1989; Muscarella & Cunningham, 1996). In addition, we found that
perceptions of social maturity increased linearly with the amount
of facial hair, a finding contrary to that of Muscarella and Cunning-
ham (1996) who noted reductions in perceptions of social maturity
with beardedness. However, our finding is in agreement with
research by Pellegrini (1973) who also identified an increase in
perception of social maturity for males with a full beard. Differ-
ences in methodology, definition of ‘social maturity’, and stimuli
could account for this inconsistency. Not surprisingly, our results
also indicated that increases in facial hair led to increases in
perceived age. Fully bearded males were considered the oldest, in
line with previous findings (Muscarella & Cunningham, 1996).
As predicted, a curvilinear relationship was found for percep-
tions of attractiveness, the optimum level of attractiveness being
associated with the faces with light stubble, with clean-shaven
and fully bearded faces being rated as the least attractive. This does
not support the findings from previous studies (Feinman & Gill,
1977; Pellegrini, 1973; Reed & Blunk, 1990) who identified males
with full beards as being the most attractive. This could either re-
flect methodological differences (we used five levels of facial hair
whereas these studies utilised fewer levels). In addition, it could
reflect the fact that social norms associated with facial hair have
changed, in some time periods facial hair might be regarded as a
symbol of respectability whilst in other periods it might signal
nonconformity (e.g. Corson, 1980; Peterkin, 2002). Our finding
does however support the assertion made by Cunningham et al.
(1990) who identified a female preference in the ability for males
to grow a beard (i.e. for stubble, which indicates a certain degree
of physical maturity), but not for the presence of a full beard (asso-
ciated with increased dominance and/or aggression).
In assessment of desirability for a short-term relationship, a
female preference for male faces with stubble/light beard was
found, with clean-shaven and fully bearded faces being the least
preferred. This indicates again that females are not selecting faces
displaying relatively high or low masculinity, but are rather prefer-
ring males who are clearly mature (post-pubertal) but not too mas-
culinised. The same pattern was found for preferences for a long-
term relationship.
It is possible that females are avoiding males with full beards as
they are perceived as being much older than those with stubble.
However, the perceived age difference was moderate (light stub-
ble = 23.7 years; full beard = 26.8 years), but as the mean age of
the female sample was 21.7, a preference for males 2 years older,
but not for males more than 5 years older is in accord with previ-
ous research (e.g. Kenrick & Keefe, 1992). The preference for a
moderately masculinised male for a short-term relationship is in
accord with previous studies reporting a female preference for
more masculine faces for a short-term relationship (e.g. Little
et al., 2002; Waynforth et al., 2005) though it is difficult to equate
the relative degree of masculinity between studies.
One limitation of this current study is that we did not control
for the influence of the menstrual cycle. Several studies have
now demonstrated that female preferences towards masculinity
are not fixed, but instead fluctuate with fertility level, more mascu-
line characteristics being preferred during the most fertile phase
(e.g. Pawlowski & Jasienska, 2005; Penton-Voak & Perrett, 2000;
Puts, 2005). Future studies clearly need to take this into account.
Perhaps a preference for facial hair might show some variability
over the cycle with a preference for more facial hair (greater per-
ceived masculinity) peaking around ovulation, especially for a
short-term sexual partner.
In addition, another key limitation is that we did not control for
several within-sex variables that are now known to influence
female perceptions of male stimuli. For example, females scoring
high on a sociosexuality index are more likely to prefer masculin-
ised male faces (Waynforth et al., 2005); females scoring higher on
self-perceived attractiveness prefer more masculine/symmetrical
faces (Little, Burt, Penton-Voak, & Perrett, 2001); preferences for
facial masculinity are associated with actual or ideal partner mas-
culinity preferences (DeBruine et al., 2005); and raised testoster-
one level is associated with increased attraction to masculine
faces (Welling et al., 2007). Once more, future studies could control
for these variables.
In conclusion, our findings extend previous research demon-
strating associations between male facial hair and female sociosex-
ual judgements. As we used more levels of facial hair than previous
studies we were able to demonstrate different associations
depending upon the characteristics being rated. Thus, a positive
linear relationship was established for facial hair and assessments
of masculinity, dominance, aggression, and perceived age, such
that ratings increased as facial hair increased. However, for attrac-
tiveness (and preferences for a short- or long-term partner), a non-
linear relationship was observed such that clean-shaven and
bearded faces were perceived to be less attractive than a face dis-
playing the ability to grow facial hair (stubble). This suggests that
females perceive males displaying honest signals of sexual
376 N. Neave, K. Shields / Personality and Individual Differences 45 (2008) 373–377
Author's personal copy
maturity to indeed be more dominant, socially mature and older,
but that such signals are not thought to be necessarily attractive.
In the age group sampled here (early 20s) the potential to display
such maturity was preferred over the actual possession of such sig-
nals. This may reflect a straightforward consideration of the age of
the individual (clean-shaven and bearded faces were felt to be too
young/old) and/or may reflect good genes models, in that females
are showing preferences for male faces reflecting optimum levels
of sex steroid hormones, too low reflecting immaturity, and too
high reflecting increased dominance/aggression.
The authors express their thanks to Johannes Hönekopp for his
constructive comments on an earlier version of this manuscript,
and two anonymous referees for their helpful comments on the
submitted version.
Addison, W. E. (1989). Beardedness as a factor in perceived masculinity. Perceptual
and Motor Skills, 68, 921–922.
Barber, N. (1995). The evolutionary psychology of physical attractiveness: Sexual
selection and human morphology. Ethology and Sociobiology, 16, 395–424.
Buss, D. M., & Barnes, M. (1986). Preferences in human mate selection. Journal of
Personality and Social Psychology, 50, 559–570.
Buss, D. M., & Schmitt, D. P. (1993). Sexual strategies theory: An evolutionary
perspective on human mating. Psychological Review, 100, 204–232.
Corson, R. (1980). Fashion in hair: The first 5000 years. London: Peter Owen.
Cunningham, M. R., Barbee, A. P., & Pike, C. L. (1990). What do women want?
Facialmetric assessment of multiple motives in the perception of male facial
physical attractiveness. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 59, 61–72.
DeBruine, L. M., Jones, B. C., Little, A. C., Boothroyd, L. G., Perrett, D. I., & Penton-
Voak, I. S. (2005). Correlated preferences for facial masculinity and ideal or
actual partner masculinity. Proceedings of the Royal Society, B, 273, 1355–1360.
Enlow, D. H. (1996). Growth of the mandible. In D. H. Enlow & M. G. Hans (Eds.),
Essentials of facial growth (pp. 57–78). Philadelphia: Saunders.
Etcoff, N. (1999). Survival of the prettiest: The science of beauty. New York:
Feinman, S., & Gill, G. W. (1977). Females’ responses to males’ beardedness.
Perceptual and Motor Skills, 44, 533–534.
Fink, B., & Neave, N. (2005). The biology of facial beauty. International Journal of
Cosmetic Science, 27, 317–325.
Folstad, I., & Karter, A. J. (1992). Parasites, bright males, and the
immunocompetence handicap. American Naturalist, 139, 603–622.
Gangestad, S. W., Garver-Apgar, C. E., Simpson, J. A., & Cousins, A. J. (2007). Changes
in women’s mate preferences across the ovulatory cycle. Journal of Personality
and Social Psychology, 92, 151–163.
Grammer, K., & Thornhill, R. (1994). Human (Homo sapiens) facial attractiveness and
sexual selection: The role of symmetry and averageness. Journal of Comparative
Psychology, 108, 233–242.
Guthrie, R. D. (1970). Evolution of human threat display organs. In T. Dobzhansky,
M. K. Hecht, & W. C. Steers (Eds.). Evolutionary biology (Vol. 4, pp. 257–302).
New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts.
Hönekopp, J., Becker, B. J., & Oswald, F. L. (2006). The meaning and suitability of
various effect sizes for structured rater ratee designs. Psychological Methods,
11, 72–86.
Johnson, V. S., Hagel, R., Franklin, M., Fink, B., & Grammer, K. (2001). Male facial
attractiveness. Evidence for hormone-mediated adaptive design. Evolution and
Human Behavior, 22, 251–267.
Keating, C. F. (1985). Gender and physiognomy of dominance and attractiveness.
Social Psychology Quarterly, 48, 61–70.
Kenny, C. T., & Fletcher, D. (1973). Effects of beardedness on person perception.
Perceptual and Motor Skills, 37, 413–414.
Kenrick, D. T., & Keefe, R. C. (1992). Age preferences in mates reflect sex differences
in human reproductive strategies. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 15, 75–133.
Little, A., Burt, D., Penton-Voak, I. S., & Perrett, D. (2001). Self-perceived
attractiveness influences human female preferences for sexual dimorphism
and symmetry in male faces. Proceedings of the Royal Society, B, 268, 39–44.
Little, A., Jones, B., Penton-Voak, I., Burt, D., & Perrett, D. (2002). Partnership status
and the temporal context of relationships influence human female preferences
for sexual dimorphism in male face shape. Proceedings of the Royal Society, B,
269, 1095–1100.
Muscarella, F., & Cunningham, M. R. (1996). The evolutionary significance and social
perception of male pattern baldness and facial hair. Ethology and Sociobiology,
17, 99–117.
Neave, N., Laing, S., Fink, B., & Manning, J. T. (2003). Second to fourth digit ratio,
testosterone, and perceived male dominance. Proceedings of the Royal Society, B,
270, 2167–2172.
Pawlowski, B., & Jasienska, G. (2005). Women’s preferences for sexual dimorphism
in height depend on menstrual cycle phase and expected duration of
relationship. Biological Psychology, 70, 38–43.
Pellegrini, R. J. (1973). Impressions of the male personality as a function of
beardedness. Psychology, 10, 29–33.
Penton-Voak, I. S., Jacobson, A., & Trivers, R. (2004). Populational differences in
attractiveness judgements of male and female faces: Comparing British and
Jamaican samples. Evolution and Human Behavior, 25, 355–370.
Penton-Voak, I. S., & Perrett, D. I. (2000). Female preference for male faces changes
cyclically: Further evidence. Evolution and Human Behavior, 21, 39–48.
Penton-Voak, I. S., Perrett, D. I., Castles, D. L., Kobayashi, T., Burt, D. M., & Murray, L.
K. (1999). Menstrual cycle alters face preference. Nature, 399, 741–
Perrett, D. I., Lee, K. J., Penton-Voak, I., Rowland, D., Yoshikawa, S., & Burt, D. M.
(1998). Effects of sexual dimorphism on facial attractiveness. Nature, 394,
Peterkin, A. (2002). One thousand beards: A cultural history of facial hair. Vancouver:
Arsenal Pulp Press.
Puts, D. A. (2005). Mating context and menstrual phase affect women’s preferences
for male voice pitch. Evolution and Human Behavior, 26, 388–397.
Randall, V. A. (2004). Androgens and hair: a biological paradox. In E. Nieschlag, H. M.
Behre, & S. Nieschlag (Eds.), Testosterone (pp. 207–231). Cambridge, MA:
Cambridge University Press.
Reed, J. A., & Blunk, E. M. (1990). The influence of facial hair on impression
formation. Social Behavior and Personality, 18, 169–176.
Rhodes, G. (2006). The evolutionary psychology of facial beauty. Annual Review of
Psychology, 57, 199–226.
Rosenthal, R., Rosnow, R. L., & Rubin, D. B. (2000). Contrasts and effect sizes in
behavioural research. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press.
Scheib, J. E., Gangestad, S. W., & Thornhill, R. (1999). Facial attractiveness, symmetry
and cues of good genes. Proceedings of the Royal Society, B, 266, 1913–1917.
Shannon, M. L., & Stark, C. P. (2003). The influence of physical appearance on
personnel selection. Social Behavior and Personality, 6, 613–624.
Thornhill, R., & Gangestad, S. W. (1993). Human facial beauty: Averageness,
symmetry, and parasite resistance. Human Nature, 4, 237–269.
Thornhill, R., & Grammer, K. (1999). The body and face of woman: One ornament
that signals quality. Evolution and Human Behavior, 20, 105–120.
Waynforth, D., Delwadia, S., & Camm, M. (2005). The influence of women’s mating
strategies on preference for masculine facial architecture. Evolution and Human
Behavior, 26, 409–416.
Welling, L. L. M., Jones, B. C., DeBruine, L. M., Conway, C. A., Law Smith, M. J., & Little,
A. C. (2007). Raised salivary testosterone in women is associated with increased
attraction to masculine faces. Hormones and Behavior, 52, 156–161.
Wogalter, M. S., & Hosie, J. A. (2001). Effects of cranial and facial hair on perceptions
of age and person. The Journal of Social Psychology, 131, 589–591.
Zahavi, A. (1975). Mate selection – A selection for a handicap. Journal of Theoretical
Biology, 53, 205–214.
N. Neave, K. Shields / Personality and Individual Differences 45 (2008) 373–377 377
... The presence of a beard can produce a more masculine appearance, as a beard augments jaw size (Dixson et al., , 2018 and the midface (Guthrie, 1970;Sherlock et al., 2017). Moreover, full-bearded men are perceived as more dominant (Neave et al., 2008), aggressive (Addison, 1989;Muscarella et al., 1996) and physically stronger (Fink et al., 2007), particularly by other men (Dixson et al., 2013). Additionally, beards enhance ratings of men's age, self-confidence and social status (Kenny et al., 1973;Neave et al., 2008;Pancer et al., 1978;Pellegrini et al., 2007;Roll et al., 1971). ...
... Moreover, full-bearded men are perceived as more dominant (Neave et al., 2008), aggressive (Addison, 1989;Muscarella et al., 1996) and physically stronger (Fink et al., 2007), particularly by other men (Dixson et al., 2013). Additionally, beards enhance ratings of men's age, self-confidence and social status (Kenny et al., 1973;Neave et al., 2008;Pancer et al., 1978;Pellegrini et al., 2007;Roll et al., 1971). A beard also affects how an individual perceives himself: bearded men feel more masculine (Addison, 1989;Wood, 1986). ...
... This study provides new data for the debate about the function of beards. Some previous studies suggest that beards may be a proxy for male dominance (Neave et al., 2008), may increase feelings of masculinity (Addison, 1989) and may affect fighting abilities by intimidating rival males (Guthrie, 1970). In contrast, a study by Dixson et al. (2018) showed that the beardedness of mixed martial arts fighters was not associated with their fighting abilities (i.e., the number of knockouts). ...
Full-text available
The male beard is one of the most visually salient and sexually dimorphic traits and a hypothesized potential marker of other traits, such as dominance, masculinity, social status, and self-confidence. However, as men can easily alter their facial hair, beards may provide unreliable information about the beard owner’s characteristics. Here, we examined whether beards are honest signals of biological (testosterone levels) and psychological (self-reported dominance) traits. Young (M = 21.29, SD = 1.54) and healthy men (N = 97) participated in the study. Their beards were measured directly (using digital calipers) and by self-report. Participants provided saliva samples before and after acute exercise (to assess their testosterone and cortisol levels) and reported their dominance on a 5-item scale. The results showed that beard length (directly measured and self-reported) was not related to testosterone levels or dominance; thus, no evidence was found to support the hypothesis that beards are honest (or dishonest) signals of the beard owners’ testosterone levels and dominance.
... Beards positively influence judgments of men's age (Neave & Shields, 2008), masculinity (Addison, 1989;Dixson & Brooks, 2013), social status (Dixson & Vasey, 2012), dominance (Saxton et al., 2016;Sherlock et al., 2017), strength (Gray et al., 2020;Nelson et al., 2019), and aggressiveness Mefodeva et al., 2020;Muscarella & Cunningham, 1996). Compared to clean-shaven men, bearded men report stronger feelings of masculinity (Wood, 1986), higher dominance and assertiveness , and men desire facial hair more for themselves than among their male contemporaries (Jach & Moroń, 2020). ...
... Facial hair may enhance perceptions of male age, dominance, and aggressiveness by embellishing underlying masculine facial morphology, including the prominence of the midface and thickness of the jaw (Goodhart, 1960;Guthrie, 1970). Indeed, ratings of intra-sexually relevant traits increase linearly with the quantity of facial hair, with bearded faces receiving the highest ratings of masculinity, dominance, and aggressiveness followed by heavy stubble, then light stubble, with clean-shaveness rated lowest (Dixson & Brooks, 2013;Neave & Shields, 2008). Experimentally increasing facial masculinity via computer graphics techniques in clean-shaven, stubbled, and full bearded faces revealed men's dominance ratings for masculine over feminine faces were strongest within clean-shaven faces but decreased as facial hair increased . ...
... There were no differences in masculinity perceptions due to facial expressions. These results lend further support to past studies reporting masculinity ratings rise linearly with increasing facial hair (Dixson & Brooks, 2013;Neave & Shields, 2008), demonstrating that the presence of stubble on the facial regions reflecting the most pronounced sexual dimorphism, notably the prominence of the jaw, causatively determine judgments of facial masculinity (Dixson, 2018;. Analyses of men photographed when clean-shaven and with full beards found that while objective measures of facial masculinity and jaw size were positively associated with masculinity and dominance ratings, these effects were far smaller than the main effects of beardedness (Dixson et al., 2017a). ...
Full-text available
Objectives To test whether intra-sexual selection has influenced perceptions of male facial hair. We predicted that beards would increase the speed and accuracy of perceptions of angry but not happy facial expressions. We also predicted that bearded angry faces would receive the highest explicit ratings of masculinity and aggressiveness, whereas higher prosociality ratings would be ascribed to clean-shaven happy faces.MethodsA total of 106 participants, ranging from 17 to 59 years of age (M = 27.27, SD = 10.03); 59 were female and 47 were male (44.3%) completed an emotion categorization tasks and an explicit ratings task. Participants viewed faces of the same men when bearded, clean-shaven, and 10 days of natural growth (i.e. stubble) when posing angry and happy facial expressions.ResultsAngry facial expressions were categorised most rapidly and with the greatest accuracy on bearded faces, followed by faces with stubble then clean-shaven faces. Conversely, happy facial expressions were categorised most rapidly and with the greatest accuracy on clean-shaven faces, followed by stubbled faces then bearded faces. Irrespective of facial expression, full bearded faces received the highest ratings of masculinity followed by faces with stubble then clean-shaven faces. Aggressiveness ratings were highest for angry faces with full beards, followed by angry faces with stubble, with clean-shaven angry faces receiving the lowest ratings. In contrast to our prediction, bearded smiling faces were rated as significantly more prosocial than stubbled and clean-shaven smiling faces.Conclusions These findings contribute further evidence that men’s beardedness represents an intra-sexually selected badge of status that enhances nonverbal threat potentially by augmenting underlying masculine facial structures.
... In reference to physical attractiveness, research on beards enhancing men's attractiveness has been mixed. Research has shown that women rate men with full beards as attractive [43][44][45], while others have shown that men with a heavy stubble [46], light stubble [47], and clean shaven [48] are rated higher in attractiveness. Interestingly, men with beards are often rated higher in parental ability [49] and are rated higher in attractiveness for a long-term partnership [46,47]. ...
... Research has shown that women rate men with full beards as attractive [43][44][45], while others have shown that men with a heavy stubble [46], light stubble [47], and clean shaven [48] are rated higher in attractiveness. Interestingly, men with beards are often rated higher in parental ability [49] and are rated higher in attractiveness for a long-term partnership [46,47]. This may be due to the perceptions beardedness has on age, maturity, and ambition, which are attributes that are desirable in a long-term partner. ...
Full-text available
This chapter provides an overview of the literature on the sex differences in physical attractiveness, and how it influences mate choice. More specifically, it investigates evolutionary perspectives on men and women’s preferences for physical traits, such as ideal breast features in women, and masculine physical traits (i.e., muscularity, broad shoulders) in men. The chapter focuses on conditional (i.e., ecological/environmental) roles on mate preferences, in addition to examining possible individual differences, such as mate value. The chapter covers the following: (1) An overview of sex differences in attractiveness, including theoretical explanations, (2) A broad focus on women’s ideal preferences, (3) A broad focus on men’s ideal preferences, and (4) A discussion on conditional factors and individual differences influencing preferences for ideal traits.
... In these situations, listeners might be influenced by the speakers' appearance or by other visual (V) cues unrelated to the voice. V cues such as general physical appearance (Naumann, Vazire, Rentfrow, & Gosling, 2009), attractiveness (Eagly, Ashmore, Makhijani, & Longo, 1991;Fink, Neave, Manning, & Grammer, 2006), ethnicity (Hess, Blairy, & Kleck, 2000), facial expression (Hess et al., 2000;Montepare & Dobish, 2003), facial hair (Neave & Shields, 2008) or eyeglasses (Leder, Forster, & Gerger, 2011) have been previously reported as potentially influencing factors on personality judgment in the general population. It has also been suggested that judges' ratings of vocal attractiveness are influenced by a speakers' physical attractiveness and vice versa (Rezlescu et al., 2015;Zuckerman & Driver, 1989;Zuckerman, Miyake, & Hodgins, 1991). ...
... The adjective pair calm-tense revealed significant differences between dysphonic and non-dysphonic speakers in all conditions, including the V condition, in which dysphonic speakers were rated more negatively. The current study did not control for certain V stimuli that may affect these attitudes towards a speaker, such as eyeglasses, attractiveness, physical appearance or facial hair (Eagly et al., 1991;Fink et al., 2006;Leder et al., 2011;Naumann et al., 2009;Neave & Shields, 2008). This is something that should be considered in future research. ...
Objective: People with dysphonia are judged more negatively than peers with normal vocal quality. This preliminary study aims to (1) investigate correlations between both auditory-perceptual and objective measures of vocal quality of dysphonic and non-dysphonic speakers and attitudes of listeners, and (2) discover whether these attitudes towards people with dysphonia vary for different types of stimuli: auditory (A) stimuli and combined auditory-visual (AV) stimuli. Visual (V) stimuli were included as a control condition. Method: Ten judges with no experience in the evaluation of dysphonia were asked to rate A, AV and V stimuli of 14 different speakers (10 dysphonic and 4 non-dysphonic speakers) Cognitive attitudes, evaluation of voice characteristics and behavioral attitudes were examined. Pearson and Spearman correlation coefficients were calculated to examine correlations between both Dysphonia Severity Index (DSI) values and perceptual vocal quality as assessed by a speech-language pathologist (PVQSLP) or perceptual vocal quality as assessed by the judges (PVQjudge). Linear mixed model (LMM) analyses were conducted to investigate differences between speakers and stimuli conditions. Results: Statistically significant correlations were found between both perceptual and objective measures of vocal quality and mean attitude scores for A and AV stimuli, indicating increasingly negative attitudes with increasing dysphonia severity. Fewer statistically significant correlations were found for the combined AV stimuli than for A stimuli, and no significant correlations were found for V stimuli. LMM analyses revealed significant group effects for several cognitive attitudes. Conclusion: Generally, people with dysphonia are judged more negatively by listeners than peers without dysphonia. However, the findings of this study suggest a positive influence of visual cues on the judges’ cognitive and behavioral attitudes towards dysphonic speakers. Further research is needed to investigate the significance of this influence.
... Potentially the most visually distinctive secondary sexual trait in males is facial hair 33,34 . Owing to the emergence of facial hair during adolescence and its full expression in adulthood, beards unambiguously communicate age, maturity, and masculinity 32,35,36 . Additionally, using photographs of the same men posing neutral expressions when bearded compared to when clean-shaven, beards increased ratings of social status 37 , social dominance 38,39 , strength 40,41 and aggressiveness 32,36 . ...
... Owing to the emergence of facial hair during adolescence and its full expression in adulthood, beards unambiguously communicate age, maturity, and masculinity 32,35,36 . Additionally, using photographs of the same men posing neutral expressions when bearded compared to when clean-shaven, beards increased ratings of social status 37 , social dominance 38,39 , strength 40,41 and aggressiveness 32,36 . These effects could be due to beards enhancing underlying structural elements of facial masculinity, notably the length of the face and protrusion of the jaw 32,38,42 . ...
Full-text available
Human visual systems have evolved to extract ecologically relevant information from complex scenery. In some cases, the face in the crowd visual search task demonstrates an anger superiority effect, where anger is allocated preferential attention. Across three studies (N = 419), we tested whether facial hair guides attention in visual search and influences the speed of detecting angry and happy facial expressions in large arrays of faces. In Study 1, participants were faster to search through clean-shaven crowds and detect bearded targets than to search through bearded crowds and detect clean-shaven targets. In Study 2, targets were angry and happy faces presented in neutral backgrounds. Facial hair of the target faces was also manipulated. An anger superiority effect emerged that was augmented by the presence of facial hair, which was due to the slower detection of happiness on bearded faces. In Study 3, targets were happy and angry faces presented in either bearded or clean-shaven backgrounds. Facial hair of the background faces was also systematically manipulated. A significant anger superiority effect was revealed, although this was not moderated by the target’s facial hair. Rather, the anger superiority effect was larger in clean-shaven than bearded face backgrounds. Together, results suggest that facial hair does influence detection of emotional expressions in visual search, however, rather than facilitating an anger superiority effect as a potential threat detection system, facial hair may reduce detection of happy faces within the face in the crowd paradigm.
... A non-threatening form of dominance associated with wisdom and nurturance, termed social maturity (Muscarella & Cunningham, 1996), also increases as masculinity increases (Neave & Shields, 2008). In addition, dominance can be realised by other non-aggressive means, such as skilful leadership and persuasion (Henrich & Gil-White, 2001). ...
Full-text available
Studies of facial dimorphism and its functions in humans have concluded that tilting a face at differing angles of pitch influences perceptions of dimorphism, attractiveness, and dominance. However, there are problems with the methodology of previous studies. The use of un-lifelike stimuli is of particular concern. The current study aims to improve the ecological validity of results from dimorphism studies through the use of stimuli that are more representative of real world faces – specifically moving faces. Predictions for the effects of moving faces expected results to correlate with the effects of the stationary faces, while also showing differences indicative of more lifelike stimulus. Participants were presented with stationary stimuli similar to types used previously, as well as a new type of dynamic stimuli which depicted faces moving through a range of pitch. Participants were asked to rate both types of stimulus on categories of dimorphism, attractiveness, and dominance. The results largely matched predictions with stationary images replicating previous findings, and results from dynamic stimuli reiterating those results. The argument is then made that dynamic images are a more ecologically valid stimulus, because they appear more realistic and also elicit more realistic behaviours.
This chapter focuses on the behaviors employed by men in the service of attracting mates, which we discuss as having emerged to solve specific reproductive problems faced by women. We consider behaviors employed by men to attract mates in short-term mating and long-term mating contexts, given the differential valuation on certain behavioral repertoire that emerge. In short-term mating, we specifically consider behavioral displays of dominance with their dispositional and situational antecedents before discussing men’s pursuit of distinctiveness and humor use, behaviors ostensibly indicative of good genes. In long-term mating, our discussion centers around the desirability of different resource displays and benevolence. We further discuss cues ostensibly diagnostic of paternal investment ability and an interest in monogamy. Our final section addresses how modern mating markets present adaptive problems for men (e.g., online dating, appearance enhancing behaviors) and how men seek to solve the new problems that have emerged.
Full-text available
It is hypothesized that human faces judged to be attractive by people possess two features-averageness and symmetry-that promoted adaptive mate selection in human evolutionary history by way of production of offspring with parasite resistance. Facial composites made by combining individual faces are judged to be attractive, and more attractive than the majority of individual faces. The composites possess both symmetry and averageness of features. Facial averageness may reflect high individual protein heterozygosity and thus an array of proteins to which parasites must adapt. Heterozygosity may be an important defense of long-lived hosts against parasites when it occurs in portions of the genome that do not code for the essential features of complex adaptations. In this case heterozygosity can create a hostile microenvironment for parasites without disrupting adaptation. Facial bilateral symmetry is hypothesized to affect positive beauty judgments because symmetry is a certification of overall phenotypic quality and developmental health, which may be importantly influenced by parasites. Certain secondary sexual traits are influenced by testosterone, a hormone that reduces immunocompetence. Symmetry and size of the secondary sexual traits of the face (e.g., cheek bones) are expected to correlate positively and advertise immunocompetence honestly and therefore to affect positive beauty judgments. Facial attractiveness is predicted to correlate with attractive, nonfacial secondary sexual traits; other predictions from the view that parasite-driven selection led to the evolution of psychological adaptations of human beauty perception are discussed. The view that human physical attractiveness and judgments about human physical attractiveness evolved in the context of parasite-driven selection leads to the hypothesis that both adults and children have a species-typical adaptation to the problem of identifying and favoring healthy individuals and avoiding parasite-susceptible individuals. It is proposed that this adaptation guides human decisions about nepotism and reciprocity in relation to physical attractiveness.
Full-text available
In the UK and Japan, both men and women prefer somewhat feminised opposite-sex faces, especially when choosing a long-term partner. Such faces are perceived as more honest, caring, and sensitive; traits that may be associated with successful male parental investment. By contrast, women prefer less feminised faces for short-term relationships and when they are near ovulation. As genetic quality may be associated with facial masculinity, women may ‘trade-off’ cues between genetic quality and paternal investment in potential partners. No analogous trade-off has been suggested to influence men's preferences, as both attributions of prosociality and potential cues to biological quality are associated with facial femininity in female faces. Ecological and cultural factors may influence the balance of trade-offs leading to populational differences in preferences. We predicted that Jamaican women would prefer more masculine faces than British women do because parasite load is higher in Jamaica, medical care less common (historically and currently), and male parental investment less pronounced. Male preferences, however, were predicted to vary less cross-culturally, as no trade-off has been identified in female facial characteristics. We constructed masculinised and feminised digital male and female face stimuli of three populations (Jamaican, Japanese, and British) and presented them to men and women in Jamaica and in Britain. The results demonstrated that Jamaican women preferred more masculine male faces than their British counterparts did. Jamaican men tended to prefer more masculine female faces than did British men did, but this effect was complicated by an interaction suggesting that more feminised faces were preferred within culture.
The finding that women are attracted to men older than themselves whereas men are attracted to relatively younger women has been explained by social psychologists in terms of economic exchange rooted in traditional sex-role norms. An alternative evolutionary model suggests that males and females follow different reproductive strategies, and predicts a more complex relationship between gender and age preferences. In particular, males' preference for relatively Younger females should be minimal during early mating years, but should become more pronounced as the male gets older. Young females are expected to prefer somewhat older males during their early years and to change less as they age. We briefly review relevant theory and present results of six studies testing this prediction. Study 1 finds support for this gender-differentiated prediction in age preferences expressed in personal advertisements. Study 2 supports the prediction with marriage statistics from two U.S. cities. Study 3 examines the cross-generational robustness of the phenomenon, and finds the same pattern in marriage statistics from 1923. Study 4 replicates Study 1 using matrimonial advertisements from two European countries, and from India. Study 5 finds a consistent pattern in marriages recorded from 1913 through 1939 on a small island in the Philippines. Study 6 reveals the same pattern in singles advertisements placed by financially successful American women and men. We consider the limitations of previous normative and evolutionary explanations of age preferences and discuss the advantages of expanding previous models to include the life history perspective.
Preferences of 482 Caucasian female college students for males' beardedness were investigated through a questionnaire. Observed low levels of liking for beardedness contrast markedly with earlier research on other college populations. The influence of region and rurality on political and social conservatism was discussed as a possible explanation for variation among studies of reaction to male beardedness.
Male and female students ( N = 114) in introductory psychology rated pictures of bearded and nonbearded men on characteristics associated with masculinity. Bearded men were rated significantly higher on masculinity, aggressiveness, dominance, and strength. The results are discussed in light of apparently contradictory evidence which suggests that bearded men are seen as less desirable than nonbearded men.
Evidence has accumulated in recent years supporting the hypothesis that both facial and bodily physical attractiveness in humans are certifications of developmental and hormonal health. Such evidence indicates that physical attractiveness is an honest or Zahavian signal of phenotypic and genetic quality. The hypothesis that physical beauty connotes health was first proposed by Westermarck and was discussed later by Ellis and Symons. It has been suggested that facial attractiveness in women is a deceptive signal of youth, unrelated to phenotypic and genetic quality. This sensory-bias or super-stimulus hypothesis is not supported by this study of men’s ratings of the attractiveness of photographs of 92 nude women. Independent ratings of photographs of faces, fronts with faces covered, and backs of the same women are significantly, positively correlated. The correlation between the ratings of different photos implies that women’s faces and external bodies comprise a single ornament of honest mate value, apparently constructed during puberty by estrogen and also probably by developmental adaptations for symmetry. Thus, women’s physical attractiveness in face and body honestly signal hormonal and perhaps developmental health.