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Children's judgements of facial hair are influenced by biological development and experience

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Abstract

Adults use features such as facial hair to judge others' social dominance and mate value, but the origin of these judgments is unknown. We sought to determine when these associations develop, which associations develop first, and whether they are associated with early exposure to bearded faces. We presented pairs of bearded and clean-shaven faces to children (2–17 years old; N = 470) and adults (18–22 years; N = 164) and asked them to judge dominance traits (strength, age, masculinity) and mate choice traits (attractiveness, parenting quality). Young children associated beardedness with dominance traits but not mate choice traits. This pattern became more extreme during late childhood and gradually shifted toward adult-like responses during early adolescence. Responses for all traits were adult-like in late adolescence. Finally, having a bearded father was associated with positive judgments of bearded faces for mate choice traits in childhood and both mate choice and dominance traits in adolescence.

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... To measure impression maturity, children and adults are typically asked to discriminate between pairs of carefully controlled face images that have been pre-selected, or computer modified, to vary on a certain characteristic (e.g. Baccolo & Cassia, 2019;Charlesworth et al., 2019;Cogsdill & Banaji, 2015;Cogsdill et al., 2014;Mondloch, Gerada, Proietti, & Nelson, 2019;Nelson, Kennedy-Costantini, Lee, & Dixson, 2019;Palmquist et al., 2019;Terrizzi et al., 2018). In such studies, five-year-old children can show adult-like impressions, suggesting that the tendency to form facial impressions reflects a fundamental social cognitive capacity that emerges relatively early in life (Cogsdill et al., 2014;Ewing, Caulfield, Read, & Rhodes, 2015). ...
... Our second aim was to determine the similarity of children's and adults' impressions, irrespective of accuracy. Investigating the maturity of children's facial impressions is an area of current theoretical interest (Mondloch et al., 2019;Nelson et al., 2019;Over & Cook, 2018;Terrizzi et al., 2020). To date, the face images used to investigate children's impressions have not been very natural. ...
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Adults teach children not to "judge a book by its cover." However, adults make rapid judgments of character from a glance at a child's face. These impressions can be modestly accurate, suggesting that adults may be sensitive to valid signals of character in children's faces. However, it is not clear whether such sensitivity requires decades of social experience, in line with the development of other face-processing abilities (e.g., facial emotion recognition), or whether this sensitivity emerges relatively early, in childhood. An important theoretical question therefore, is whether or not children's impressions are at all accurate. Here, we examined the accuracy in children's impressions of niceness and shyness from children's faces. Children (aged 7-12 years, ∼90% Caucasian) and adults rated 84 unfamiliar children's faces (aged 4-11 years, 48 female, ∼80% Caucasian) for niceness (Study 1) or shyness (Study 2). To measure accuracy, we correlated facial impressions with parental responses to well-established questionnaires about the actual niceness/shyness of those children in the images. Overall, children and adults formed highly similar niceness (r = .94) and shyness (r = .84) impressions. Children also showed mature impression accuracy: Children and adults formed modestly accurate niceness impressions, across different images of the same child's face. Neither children nor adults showed evidence for accurate shyness impressions. Together, these results suggest that children's impressions are relatively mature by middle childhood. Furthermore, these results demonstrate that any mechanisms driving accurate niceness impressions are in place by 7 years, and potentially before. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved).
... 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). ...
... This may explain why some studies report women prefer beards over clean-shaven faces Dixson et al., 2017aDixson et al., , b, 2018bMcIntosh et al., 2017), others reported that clean-shaveness is preferred over beards (Dixson & Vasey, 2012;Muscarella & Cunningham, 1996), while others report intermediate levels of stubble determine men's attractiveness (Dixson & Brooks, 2013;Janif et al., 2014;Kim et al., 2018). In contrast, women's preferences for beards are more consistently higher when judging parenting skills than sexual attractiveness (Dixson & Brooks, 2013;Dixson et al., 2019a;Nelson et al., 2019;Stower et al., 2020), especially among mothers than women without children (Dixson et al., 2019a). Reproductive success was also higher among women in long-term relationships with bearded partners than women in relationships with clean-shaven partners (Štěrbová et al., 2019). ...
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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.
... 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 . ...
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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.
... Facial hair may be the most conspicuous and sexually dimorphic of men's secondary sexual traits. Compared to clean-shaven states, beards increase ratings of masculinity, age, social dominance, and aggressiveness Nelson et al., 2019), potentially by enhancing underlying masculine facial structure and jaw size (Dixson et al., 2017a;Mefodeva et al., 2020;Sherlock et al., 2017) Why then do men remove such a prominent cue of sexual maturity and masculinity? Women's mate preferences for bearded partners vary considerably across studies (Gray et al., 2020;Valentova et al., 2017), and there is no evidence that facial hair is more attractive among women at the periovulatory phase measured using questionnaires (Dixson & Brooks, 2013;Dixson et al., 2013;Dixson & Rantala, 2016) and hormonally (Dixson et al., 2018a, b). ...
... nursing, teaching, or art), on the other hand, may find weaker effects. Furthermore, differences in facial hair norms (based on culture, geography, time in history, and personal experiences) may drive differing effects and impact optimal beard lengths (Janif, Brooks, & Dixson, 2014;Nelson, Kennedy-Costantini, Lee, & Dixson, 2019;Oldmeadow & Dixson, 2016;Oldstone-Moore, 2015). Future work should explore the moderating effect of industry and examine social norm differences in preference for facial hair and optimal facial hair styles. ...
Article
Service and sales personnel researchers have long been interested in the effects of physical appearance on sales and service outcomes. In the current work, we examine a specific physical feature—facial hair. Interestingly, evolutionary psychologists have found that facial hair does not consistently increase perceived attractiveness (Dixson and Vasey, 2012, Dixson et al., 2013), but it does serve as an indicator of masculine traits. The present research examines how males with beards are perceived in a sales/service specific context. We present five studies, in which the power of the beard (versus other facial hair styles or no hair) is evident. Sales personnel with a beard are perceived as having more expertise across various industries; furthermore, increased perceptions of expertise predict higher ratings of trustworthiness and, subsequently, increase consumers’ purchase likelihood.
... Research into perception and signaling functions of facial hair is usually conducted using stimulus faces shown in videos or photographs, in which the length and form of facial hair are manipulated (see e.g. Gray et al., 2020;Neave & Shields, 2008;Nelson et al., 2019). The task of the research participants is to indicate which faces they find the most attractive, the most aggressive, the most dominant and so on. ...
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Researchers have found that men's facial hair may have certain signaling functions connected with intrasexual competition and intersexual attractiveness. The interesting issue is whether men's and women's preferences for men's facial hair may be considered a reflection of their intuitive knowledge about these functions. The aim of the presented studies was to analyze women's and men's preferences regarding men's facial hair using questions with a dichotomous answer format (Study 1 and Study 2) and pictorial stimuli (Study 2). In both studies, women were asked to indicate their preferences for men's facial hair. Men were asked to report preferences for facial hair in themselves and in other men, as well as to report their actual appearance of facial hair. The results showed that women's preferences for men's facial hair were ambiguous, while men preferred facial hair for themselves and had a lower inclination to prefer facial hair in other men. It suggests that men may be aware of some aspects of signaling functions of facial hair, especially these connected with intrasexual competition.
... genetically determined androgen-dependent secondary sexual characteristic (Randall 2008). Experimental studies report that facial hair augments ratings of men's age (Neave and Shields 2008), masculinity (Addison 1989;Dixson and Brooks 2013) social status (Dixson and Vasey 2012), physical dominance (Gray et al. 2020;Saxton et al., 2016) and aggressiveness (Geniole and McCormick 2015;Muscarella and Cunningham 1996;Nelson et al. 2019). Beards may increase perceived intra-sexual formidability by enhancing the prominence of the jaw (Dixson et al. 2017a;Mefodeva et al. 2020;Sherlock et al. 2017) and the saliency of angry facial expressions (Craig et al. 2019;Dixson and Vasey 2012). ...
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Objectives To test whether cross-cultural variation in men’s facial hair conforms to patterns predicted by processes of inter-sexual and intra-sexual selection.Methods Data were taken from the PEW Research Center’s World’s Muslims’ project that collected information from 14,032 men from 25 countries. An Independent Factor Analysis was used to analyse how suites of demographic factors predict men’s beardedness.ResultsAnalyses replicated those from past research using the PEW data, showing that beardedness was more frequent under prevailing conditions of lower health and higher economic disparity.Conclusions These findings contribute to evidence that men’s decision to augment their masculinity via full beardedness occurs under conditions characterised by stronger inter-sexual and intra-sexual selection.
... Terrizzi (2020) provides an extensive and critical review of the developmental changes in perceptions of male power and dominance. As early as 2-5 years of age, children attribute power and strength to expansive body postures, facial masculinity and beardedness in men (Terrizzi et al. 2019;Nelson et al. 2019). However, prior to puberty, children are dependent on parental figures and prefer feminine over masculine adult faces (Quinn et al. 2002). ...
... A person with stern and prototypically masculine facial features is more likely to be viewed as aggressive, driven, and having greater authority relative to someone possessing more neutral or prototypically feminine features (Holzleitner and Perrett 2016;Keating et al. 1977;Oosterhof and Todorov 2008;Rule et al. 2012;Todorov et al. 2008;Toscano et al. 2014Toscano et al. , 2016. These impressions can be amplified by more temporary facial expressions like furrowed brows (Mondloch et al. 2019), or more permanent aspects of appearance that alter our perceptions of a person's underlying facial featurese.g., beardedness (Craig et al. 2019;Dixson et al. 2017;Dixson and Vasey 2012;Nelson et al. 2019). Nevertheless, our judgments of others' power from their facial appearance remains heavily influenced by immutable aspects of head shape and bone structure; arising even when a person's facial expressions is demonstrably neutral or they are clean-shaven Todorov et al. 2015). ...
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Objective: Adults’ mental representations of the physical appearance of people that are “strong” and people that are “in charge” are remarkably similar. Some have explained this feature of adults’ thinking by positing innate mental representations. However, specific details about the nature and structure of these representations, and an appropriate empirical foundation for these claims has been lacking. In this review, my objective is to provide a high-level summary of recent research exploring infants’ and young children’s intuitions about the physical manifestations of power. I argue that the social responses and judgments of these young participants are more informative about the existence and nature of putatively innate mental content. Methods: Narrative review of developmental studies.ResultsPreverbal infants exhibit a remarkably early sensitivity to the relative power of two agents. By early childhood, children exhibit increasingly adult-like intuitions about powerful appearance. However, there are significant revisions in the appearance-to-power correspondences that people detect between childhood and adulthood. Conclusions: These complex developmental patterns are inconsistent with the idea that adults’ intuitions about the physical manifestations of power are straightforward outputs of an innate psychology. Rather, despite an early-emerging sensitivity to appearance-based cues to power, significant conceptual development and change precede adults’ judgments about powerful appearance.
... Hypothesis 7 tested these predictions, and while we found no associations between women's attractiveness ratings for beards and beardedness in their fathers', women in relationships with bearded men had stronger preferences for bearded faces. This may reflect that social exposure to beardedness influences the strength of women's preferences for facial hair [135] or that preferences for beardedness has an influence on women's choice of beardedness in their actual partners [26]. This pattern in preferences was also stronger when women made long-term rather than short-term judgements of attractiveness. ...
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The strength and direction of sexual selection via female choice on masculine facial traits in men is a paradox in human mate choice research. While masculinity may communicate benefits to women and offspring directly (i.e. resources) or indirectly (i.e. health), masculine men may be costly as long-term partners owing to lower paternal investment. Mating strategy theory suggests women's preferences for masculine traits are strongest when the costs associated with masculinity are reduced. This study takes a multivariate approach to testing whether women's mate preferences are context-dependent. Women (n = 919) rated attractiveness when considering long-term and short-term relationships for male faces varying in beardedness (clean-shaven and full beards) and facial masculinity (30% and 60% feminized, unmanipulated, 30% and 60% masculinized). Participants then completed scales measuring pathogen, sexual and moral disgust, disgust towards ectoparasites, reproductive ambition, self-perceived mate value and the facial hair in partners and fathers. In contrast to past research, we found no associations between pathogen disgust, self-perceived mate value or reproductive ambition and facial masculinity preferences. However, we found a significant positive association between moral disgust and preferences for masculine faces and bearded faces. Preferences for beards were lower among women with higher ectoparasite disgust, providing evidence for ectoparasite avoidance hypothesis. However, women reporting higher pathogen disgust gave higher attractiveness ratings for bearded faces than women reporting lower pathogen disgust, providing support for parasite-stress theories of sexual selection and mate choice. Preferences for beards were also highest among single and married women with the strongest reproductive ambition. Overall, our results reflect mixed associations between individual differences in mating strategies and women's mate preferences for masculine facial traits.
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Objective The objective of this study was to address the putative ancestral social signaling value of male facial hair, in concert with variable cultural meaning. The ability to grow facial hair might have served as an honest ancestral signal of male age, social dominance, strength and health. Male facial hair may also have had signaling value for attractiveness, though these might be less strong than effects tied to male-male competition. Male facial hair can also be modified, giving rise to cultural variation in its potential signaling function.Methods We surveyed N = 252 US men and women and N = 280 Indian men and women, ages 18–25, about sociodemographics and attitudes toward male facial hair. Participants rated a randomized series of nine images of a composite male model with facial hair with respect to: preferred style, estimated age, attractive to potential partners, assertive, physically strong, friendly, and healthy. Types of facial hair were group into three categories: clean shaven, partial (e.g., Van Dyke, soul patch, stubble) and beard.ResultsSupporting hypothesized differences, results show that more male facial hair was positively associated with age estimates and negatively with friendliness, and positively related to assertiveness and physical strength. Supporting hypotheses, women preferred less facial hair and rated less facial hair as more attractive. Some sample differences arose, such as Indian participants perceiving greater age range estimates than US respondents.Conclusion These data indicate patterned variation in evaluations of male facial hair that can be situated within an evolutionary and culturally evolved signaling framework.
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Objectives Intra-sexual selection has shaped the evolution of sexually dimorphic traits in males of many primates, including humans. In men, sexual dimorphism in craniofacial shape (i.e. facial masculinity) and facial hair have both been shown to communicate aspects of social and physical dominance intra-sexually. However, less attention has been given to how variation in physical and social dominance among receivers impacts on perceptions of facial masculinity and beards as intra-sexual signals of formidability.Methods In the current study, male participants (N = 951) rated male faces varying in masculinity and beardedness when judging masculinity, dominance and aggressiveness. These participants also responded to scales measuring their psychological dominance, sexual jealousy, status seeking, and masculine morphology (facial masculinity, facial hair, and height).ResultsBeardedness exerted strong effects over clean-shaven faces on ratings of masculinity, dominance, and aggressiveness. Trait ratings of masculinity, dominance, and aggressiveness rose linearly with increasing craniofacial masculinity. The significant facial masculinity × facial hair interaction suggests that beardedness caused strong effects on all trait ratings over clean-shaven faces at every level of facial masculinity. Participants with full beards also reported higher scores on dominance and assertiveness scales. Participants high in dominance and assertiveness also gave higher ratings for dominance, but not masculinity or aggressiveness, to bearded over clean-shaven faces. Participants low in intra-sexual jealousy rated clean-shaven and/or feminised faces as less dominant, less masculine, and less aggressive.Conclusions These findings demonstrate that facial hair enhances perceptions of masculinity, dominance, and aggressiveness above ratings of facial masculinity, potentially by augmenting masculine craniofacial features. Individual differences in intra-sexual dominance showed associations with judgments of facial hair but not facial masculinity. Our study demonstrates that when two sexually dimorphic androgen dependent facial traits are judged in concert, ornamental rather than structural masculine facial features underpin men’s intra-sexual judgments of formidability.
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According to the dual mating strategy model, in short-term mating contexts women should forego paternal investment qualities in favor of mates with well-developed secondary sexual characteristics and dominant behavioral displays. We tested whether this model explains variation in women’s preferences for facial masculinity and beardedness in male faces. Computer-generated composites that had been morphed to appear ± 50% masculine were rated by 671 heterosexual women (M age = 31.72 years, SD = 6.43) for attractiveness when considering them as a short-term partner, long-term partner, a co-parent, or a friend. They then completed the Revised Sociosexual Inventory (SOI-R) to determine their sexual openness on dimensions of desire, behavior, and attitudes. Results showed that women’s preferences were strongest for average facial masculinity, followed by masculinized faces, with feminized faces being least attractive. In contrast to past research, facial masculinity preferences were stronger when judging for co-parenting partners than for short-term mates. Facial masculinity preferences were also positively associated with behavioral SOI, negatively with desire, and were unrelated to global or attitudinal SOI. Women gave higher ratings for full beards than clean-shaven faces. Preferences for beards were higher for co-parenting and long-term relationships than short-term relationships, although these differences were not statistically significant. Preferences for facial hair were positively associated with global and attitudinal SOI, but were unrelated to behavioral SOI and desire. Although further replication is necessary, our findings indicate that sexual openness is associated with women’s preferences for men’s facial hair and suggest variation in the association between sociosexuality and women’s facial masculinity preferences.
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The ovulatory shift hypothesis proposes that women's preferences for masculine physical and behavioral traits are greater at the peri-ovulatory period than at other points of the menstrual cycle. However, many previous studies used self-reported menstrual cycle data to estimate fecundability rather than confirming the peri-ovulatory phase hormonally. Here we report two studies and three analyses revisiting the ovulatory shift hypothesis with respect to both facial masculinity and beardedness. In Study 1, a large sample of female participants (N = 2,161) self-reported their cycle phase and provided ratings for faces varying in beardedness (clean-shaven, light stubble, heavy stubble, full beards) and masculinity (-50%, -25%, natural, +25% and +50%) in a between-subjects design. In Study 2, 68 women provided the same ratings data, in a within-subjects design in which fertility was confirmed via luteinising hormone (LH) tests and analysed categorically. In Study 2, we also measured salivary estradiol (E) and progesterone (P) at the low and high fertility phases of the menstrual cycle among 36 of these women and tested whether shifts in E, P or E:P ratios predicted face preferences. Preferences for facial masculinity and beardedness did not vary as predicted with fecundability in Study 1, or with respect to fertility as confirmed via LH in Study 2. However, consistent with the ovulatory shift hypothesis, increasing E (associated with cyclical increases in fecundability) predicted increases in preferences for relatively more masculine faces; while high P (associated with cyclical decreases in fecundability) predicted increases in preferences for relatively more feminine faces. We also found an interaction between E and preferences for facial masculinity and beardedness, such that stubble was more attractive on un-manipulated than more masculine faces among women with high E. We consider discrepancies between our findings and those of other recent studies and suggest that closer scrutiny of the stimuli used to measure masculinity preferences across studies may help account for the many conflicting findings that have recently appeared regarding cycle phase preference shifts for facial masculinity.
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Infants show facility for discriminating between individual faces within hours of birth. Over the first year of life, infants' face discrimination shows continued improvement with familiar face types, such as own-race faces, but not with unfamiliar face types, like other-race faces. The goal of this meta-analytic review is to provide an effect size for infants' face discrimination ability overall, with own-race faces, and with other-race faces within the first year of life, how this differs with age, and how it is influenced by task methodology. Inclusion criteria were (a) infant participants aged 0 to 12 months, (b) completing a human own- or other-race face discrimination task, (c) with discrimination being determined by infant looking. Our analysis included 30 works (165 samples, 1,926 participants participated in 2,623 tasks). The effect size for infants' face discrimination was small, 6.53% greater than chance (i.e., equal looking to the novel and familiar). There was a significant difference in discrimination by race, overall (own-race, 8.18%; other-race, 3.18%) and between ages (own-race: 0- to 4.5-month-olds, 7.32%; 5- to 7.5-month-olds, 9.17%; and 8- to 12-month-olds, 7.68%; other-race: 0- to 4.5-month-olds, 6.12%; 5- to 7.5-month-olds, 3.70%; and 8- to 12-month-olds, 2.79%). Multilevel linear (mixed-effects) models were used to predict face discrimination; infants' capacity to discriminate faces is sensitive to face characteristics including race, gender, and emotion as well as the methods used, including task timing, coding method, and visual angle. (PsycINFO Database Record
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Women’s preferences for men’s androgen dependent secondary sexual traits are proposed to be phenotypically plastic in response to exposure to pathogens and pathogen disgust. While previous studies report that masculinity in facial shape is more attractive to women who have recently been exposed to pathogenic cues and who are high in self-reported pathogen disgust, facial hair may reduce male attractiveness under conditions of high pathogens as beards are a possible breeding ground for disease carrying ectoparasites. In the present study, we test whether women’s preferences for beardedness and facial masculinity vary due to exposure to different pathogenic cues. Participants (N = 688, mean age + 1SD = 31.94 years, SD = 6.69, range = 18–67) rated the attractiveness of facial composite stimuli of men when they were clean-shaven or fully bearded. These stimuli were also manipulated in order to vary sexual dimorphism by ±50%. Ratings were conducted before and after exposure to one of four experimental treatments in which participants were primed to either high pathogens (e.g. infected cuts), ectoparasites (e.g. body lice), a mixture of pathogens and ectoparasites, or a control condition (e.g. innocuous liquids). Participants then completed the three-domain disgust scale measuring attitudes to moral, sexual and pathogen disgust. We predicted that women would prefer facial masculinity following exposure to pathogenic cues, but would show reduced preferences for facial hair following exposure to ectoparasites. Women preferred full beards over clean-shaven faces and masculinised over feminised faces. However, none of the experimental treatments influenced the direction of preferences for facial masculinity or beardedness. We also found no association between women’s self-reported pathogen disgust and their preferences for facial masculinity. However, there was a weak positive association between moral disgust scores and preferences for facial masculinity, which might reflect conservatism and preferences for gender typicality in faces. Women’s preferences for beards were positively associated with their pathogen disgust, which runs contrary to our predictions and may reflect preferences for high quality individuals who can withstand any costs of beardedness, although further replications are necessary before firm conclusions can be made. We conclude that there is little support for pathogenic exposure being a mechanism that underpins women’s directional preferences for masculine traits.
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Humans show preferential responses to ‘attractive’ individuals from the first hours of life onwards. However, these early preferences are subject to later development, both in terms of increasing agreement on general attractiveness, and the emergence of preferences for specific dimensions of attractiveness relevant to mate choice. Here we firstly outline key aspects of mate choice and consider evidence for their hormonal mediation in adults of reproductive age. We then examine preferences for these traits across key periods of hormonal changes, namely: infancy, puberty, and menopause; and consider potential hormonal mediation arguments for the mate choice changes observed during these periods. We find overall that expression of specific preferences is ambiguous in infancy, but there is clear evidence that preferences become stronger in late childhood and adolescence (albeit subject to disruption around puberty). There is also a modest evidence base suggesting a decline in some preferences at menopause in women. Across the developmental and lifespan literature, however, there is a critical lack of studies assessing hormones directly. We close with key recommendations for future research.
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Puberty prepares mammals to sexually reproduce during adolescence. It is also hypothesized to invoke a social metamorphosis that prepares adolescents to take on adult social roles. We provide the first evidence to support this hypothesis in humans and show that pubertal development retunes the face-processing system from a caregiver bias to a peer bias. Prior to puberty, children exhibit enhanced recognition for adult female faces. With puberty, superior recognition emerges for peer faces that match one’s pubertal status. As puberty progresses, so does the peer recognition bias. Adolescents become better at recognizing faces with a pubertal status similar to their own. These findings reconceptualize the adolescent “dip” in face recognition by showing that it is a recalibration of the face processing system away from caregivers toward peers. Thus, in addition to preparing the physical body for sexual reproduction, puberty shapes the perceptual system for processing the social world in new ways.
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We previously hypothesized that pubertal development shapes the emergence of new components of face processing (Scherf et al., 2012; Garcia & Scherf, 2015). Here, we evaluate this hypothesis by investigating emerging perceptual sensitivity to complex versus basic facial expressions across pubertal development. We tested pre-pubescent children (6–8 years), age-and sex-matched adolescents in early and later stages of pubertal development (11–14 years), and sexually mature adults (18– 24 years). Using a perceptual staircase procedure, participants made visual discriminations of both socially complex expressions (sexual interest, contempt) that are arguably relevant to emerging peer-oriented relationships of adolescence, and basic (happy, anger) expressions that are important even in early infancy. Only sensitivity to detect complex expressions improved as a function of pubertal development. The ability to perceive these expressions is adult-like by late puberty when adolescents become sexually mature. This pattern of results provides the first evidence that pubertal development specifically influences emerging affective components of face perception in adolescence. Research highlights • We tested the influence of pubertal development on the ability to detect facial expressions. • Prepubescent children, adolescents in early and late puberty, and sexually mature adults were tested in a perceptual staircase paradigm. • The ability to detect happy and anger is not related to puberty.
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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.
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There has been a recent surge of interest in the question of how infants respond to the social attributes of race and gender information in faces. This work has demonstrated that by 3 months of age, infants will respond preferentially to same-race faces and faces depicting the gender of the primary caregiver. In the current study, we investigated emergence of the female face preference for same- versus other-race faces to examine whether the determinants of preference for face gender and race are independent or interactive in young infants. In Expt I, 3-month-old Caucasian infants displayed a preference for female over male faces when the faces were Caucasian, but not when the faces were Asian. In Expt 2, new-born Caucasian infants did not demonstrate a preference for female over male faces for Caucasian faces. The results are discussed in terms of a face prototype that becomes progressively tuned as it is structured by the interaction of the gender and race of faces that are experienced during early development.
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Six experiments based on visual preference procedures were conducted to examine gender categorization of female versus male faces by infants aged 3 to 4 months. In experiment 1, infants familiarized with male faces preferred a female face over a novel male face, but infants familiarized with female faces divided their attention between a male face and a novel female face. Experiment 2 demonstrated that these asymmetrical categorization results were likely due to a spontaneous preference for females. Experiments 3 and 4 showed that the preference for females was based on processing of the internal facial features in their upright orientation, and not the result of external hair cues or higher-contrast internal facial features. While experiments 1 through 4 were conducted with infants reared with female primary caregivers, experiment 5 provided evidence that infants reared with male primary caregivers tend to show a spontaneous preference for males. Experiment 6 showed that infants reared with female primary caregivers displayed recognition memory for individual females, but not males. These results suggest that representation of information about human faces by young infants may be influenced by the gender of the primary caregiver.
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Striking secondary sexual traits, such as brightly colored "sexual skin," capes of hair, beards, and other facial adornments occur in adult males of many anthropoid primate species. This review focuses upon the role of sexual selection in the evolution of these traits. A quantitative approach is used to measure sexually dimorphic characters and to compare their development in the monogamous, polygynous, and multimale-multifemale mating systems of monkeys, apes, and human beings.
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Mating strategy theories assert that women's preferences for androgen dependent traits in men are stronger when the costs of reduced paternal investment are lowest. Past research has shown that preferences for facial masculinity are stronger among nulliparous and non-pregnant women than pregnant or parous women. In two studies, we examine patterns in women's preferences for men's facial hair - likely the most visually conspicuous and sexually dimorphic of men's secondary sexual traits - when evaluating men's masculinity, dominance, age, fathering, and attractiveness. Two studies were conducted among heterosexual pregnant women, mothers, non-contractive and contraceptive users. Study 1 used a between-subjects sample (N = 2103) and found that mothers had significantly higher preferences for beards when judging fathering than all other women. Pregnant women and mothers also judged beards as more masculine and older, but less attractive, than non-contractive and contraceptive users. Parous women judged beards higher for age, masculinity and fathering, but lower for attractiveness, than nulliparous women. Irrespective of reproductive status, beards were judged as looking more dominant than clean-shaven faces. Study 2 used a within-subjects design (N = 53) among women surveyed during pregnancy and three months post-partum. Judgments of parenting skills were higher for bearded stimuli during pregnancy among women having their first baby, whereas among parous women parenting skills judgments for bearded stimuli were higher post-partum. Our results suggest that mothers are sensitive to beardedness as a masculine secondary sexual characteristic that may denote parental investment, providing evidence that women's mate preferences could reflect sexual selection for direct benefits.
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The beard is arguably one of the most obvious signals of masculinity in humans. Almost 150 years ago, Darwin suggested that beards evolved to communicate formidability to other males, but no studies have investigated whether beards enhance recognition of threatening expressions, such as anger. We found that the presence of a beard increased the speed and accuracy with which participants recognized displays of anger but not happiness (Experiment 1, N = 219). This effect was not due to negative evaluations shared by beardedness and anger or to negative stereotypes associated with beardedness, as beards did not facilitate recognition of another negative expression, sadness (Experiment 2, N = 90), and beards increased the rated prosociality of happy faces in addition to the rated masculinity and aggressiveness of angry faces (Experiment 3, N = 445). A computer-based emotion classifier reproduced the influence of beards on emotion recognition (Experiment 4). The results suggest that beards may alter perceived facial structure, facilitating rapid judgments of anger in ways that conform to evolutionary theory.
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According to the ovulatory shift hypothesis, women's mate preferences for male morphology indicative of competitive ability, social dominance, and/or underlying health are strongest at the peri-ovulatory phase of the menstrual cycle. However, recent meta-analyses are divided on the robustness of such effects and the validity of the often-used indirect estimates of fertility and ovulation has been called into question in methodological studies. In the current study, we test whether women's preferences for men's beardedness, a cue of male sexual maturity, androgenic development and social dominance, are stronger at the peri-ovulatory phase of the menstrual cycle compared to during the early follicular or the luteal phase. We also tested whether levels of estradiol, progesterone, and the estradiol to progesterone ratio at each phase were associated with facial hair preferences. Fifty-two heterosexual women completed a two-alternative forced choice preference test for clean-shaven and bearded male faces during the follicular, peri-ovulatory (validated by the surge in luteinizing hormone or the drop in estradiol levels) and luteal phases. Participants also provided for one entire menstrual cycle daily saliva samples for subsequent assaying of estradiol and progesterone. Results showed an overall preference for bearded over clean-shaven faces at each phase of the menstrual cycle. However, preferences for facial hair were not significantly different over the phases of menstrual cycle and were not significantly associated with levels of reproductive hormones. We conclude that women's preferences for men's beardedness may not be related to changes in their likelihood of conception.
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Recent research has reported that male body and facial hair influence women's mate preferences. However, it is not clear whether such preferences are typical for women or for individuals who prefer males as sexual partners. Here we explored body and facial hair in preferred and actual partners among men and women who prefer men as sexual partners. Including homosexual individuals provides a unique opportunity to investigate whether evolved mating psychologies are specific to the sex of the individual or sex of the partner. Based on an online survey of 1577 participants from Brazil and the Czech Republic, we found that, on average, homosexual men preferred hairier stimuli than heterosexual women, supporting past findings that homosexual men have strong preferences for masculine traits. Preferences for facial and body hair appear to be influenced less by sex of the preferred partner than sex of the individual, pointing to a possible sex-specific mating psychology. Further, Brazilians preferred bigger beards than Czechs, which was positively associated with the self-reported amount of beardedness in Brazil, suggesting that familiarity effects underpin cross-cultural differences in preferences for facial hair. Moreover, homosexual men preferred a self-similar degree of beardedness, and Czech women preferred a similar degree of beardedness as their fathers had during their childhood. However, these effects were not associated with the level of facial hair in their actual partners; in general, mate preferences and actual mate choices for facial and body hair differed. Thus, individual differences in some self-reported characteristics, cultural factors and aspects of personal experience may modulate differences in preferences for masculine traits.
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Facial hair is a prominent secondary sexual trait, particularly given the importance of the face in interpersonal communication. Bizarrely by animal standards, men expend considerable effort every day trimming, waxing or shaving this androgen-dependent trait. Why some men shave this cue of masculinity off, and why women's preferences for facial hair vary so dramatically, remains largely unresolved. Using a large cross-cultural sample, we explore city- and nation-level variation in preferences for beards and in facial hair grooming patterns to test how economic and demographic conditions alter frequency-dependence in preferences for beardedness. We found that women's preferences for beards were strongest in countries with lower average incomes. Beards were most common in cities with larger populations, in countries where women express stronger preferences for facial hair and life expectancy was higher. Frequencies of non-beard facial hair styles (e.g. moustaches, goatees) were most common in large cities, but were unrelated to any demographic factors. Our results suggest a role for female choice in shaping large-scale patterns of facial hair grooming and highlight that under crowded conditions with high anonymity, displays of masculinity may be amplified.
Article
Converging evidence suggests men's beards, like many androgen-dependent masculine secondary sexual traits, communicate masculinity and dominance intra-sexually while effects of men's beardedness on attractiveness ratings are more equivocal. Beards may enhance perceived masculinity and dominance via amplifying aspects of underlying craniofacial masculinity, particularly the size of the lower face and jaw. Here we tested these predictions across two studies. In Study 1, we tested how three facial metrics - objectively measured craniofacial masculinity, facial-width-to-height ratio (fWHR), and jaw size - calculated while clean-shaven impacted on ratings of attractiveness, masculinity and dominance of 37 men photographed when clean-shaven and with full beards. Results showed that beards exerted significant and positive effects on masculinity, dominance and to a lesser extent attractiveness. However, fWHR did not significantly interact with beardedness to influence the directions of any of the ratings, and while some linear and nonlinear interactions were significant between objective craniofacial masculinity and beardedness as well as between jaw size and beardedness, they tended to be subtle and dwarfed by the large main effect of beardedness on perceptual ratings. In Study 2, we measured ratings of attractiveness, masculinity and dominance for composite clean-shaven and bearded stimuli experimentally manipulated in facial shape to represent ±50% the shape of a beard, essentially manipulating the size of the lower face and jaw of the stimuli. We found a strong main effect whereby bearded stimuli enhanced dominance and masculinity ratings over clean-shaven stimuli. Increasing the size of the lower face and jaw augmented ratings of masculinity and dominance in clean-shaven stimuli but did not exert strong effects within bearded stimuli. Attractiveness ratings were highest for bearded faces with smaller jaws followed by bearded and clean-shaven faces with larger jaws and lowest for clean-shaven faces with small jaws. Taken together, our findings suggest that beards exert main effects on masculinity and dominance possibly by amplifying male typical facial shape. Attractiveness ratings of facial hair may reflect a compromise between overly dominant looking faces with larger jaws and the additive effects beardedness has on these ratings.
Chapter
Pubertal changes involve a rather dramatic set of events with regard to their rate and magnitude (Petersen and Taylor, 1980), particularly when compared to other biological events through the life cycle. Studies across the life course sensitize us to the fact that when life changes are too rapid or extreme, multiple and simultaneous, or unusually timed, individuals are subjected to varied and extreme challenges of coping with their situations. Such evidence comes to us from studies of adolescence (Coleman, 1980; Simmons, Blyth, Van Cleave, and Bush, 1979), the transition to adulthood (Coleman, et al., 1974; Neugarten and Hagestad, 1976; Hogan, 1978), middle age (Brim, 1976a; Cohler and Boxer, 1983), and old age (Lieberman, 1975; Seltzer, 1976). Individuals need some degree of control and social support to effectively negotiate life changes, and such capacities vary according to the events themselves, their transformative qualities (Brim and Ryff, 1980; Hultsch and Plemons, 1979), and individual coping styles and life cycle position. Thus, young adolescents’ confrontations with the challenges of pubertal change provide a natural testing ground for understanding (1) the nature of a set of biologically paced life events, (2) the ways in which these are negotiated, and (3) their psychosocial impact upon development.
Article
In experiment 1, we examined developmental changes in the influence of symmetry on judgments of attractiveness by showing adults and children pairs of individual faces in which one face was transformed 75% toward perfect symmetry, while the other face was transformed by exaggerating its asymmetries by 75%. Adults and 9-year-olds, but not 5-year-olds, rated the more symmetric faces as more attractive than the less symmetric faces, although the effect was stronger in adults than 9-year-olds. The preference for symmetry was stronger for male than female faces, and stronger for adults' than children's faces. In experiment 2, comparisons of the symmetry of the original male and female faces revealed no measured differences but lower ratings by adults of symmetry in the male faces. Overall, the results suggest that the influence of symmetry on attractiveness judgments emerges after the age of 5 years, and matures after the age of 9 years. The stronger effects for adult viewers may reflect an increase in sensitivity to symmetry as experience with faces increases and/or as the visual system matures. As well, attractiveness may become more salient after puberty, so that honest signals of mate quality, such as symmetry, have a stronger effect for adult viewers, especially when judging adult faces.
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Abstract We review research on the family's role in gender development during childhood and adolescence. Our discussion highlights children's dyadic family relationship experiences with their parents and siblings; additionally, we describe ways in which the larger system of family relationships, including gendered dynamics in the marriage and the differential family experiences of sisters versus brothers may have implications for gender development. We also emphasize the significance of contextual factors—ranging from situational demands and affordances to forces emanating from the larger social ecology—in family gender socialization. We conclude that family experiences may have a more important impact on gender development than has previously been believed, and we highlight directions for future study. These include: (1) applying more complex models of parent socialization and family dynamics to the study of the family's role in gender development; (2) expanding on research directed at the socialization of sex differences to study how family dynamics are linked to individual differences in girls’ and boys’ gendered qualities and behaviors; and (3) further exploring how contextual factors exert an impact on gender socialization in the family.
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Previous studies of face perception during early infancy are difficult to interpret because of discrepant results and procedural differences. We used a standardized method based on the Teller acuity card procedure to test newborns, 6-week-olds, and 12-week-olds with three pairs of face and nonface stimuli modified from previous studies. Newborns' preferences were influenced both by the visibility of the stimuli and by their resemblance to a human face. There appears to be a mechanism, likely subcortical, predisposing newborns to look toward faces. Changes in preferences at 6 and 12 weeks of age suggest increasing cortical influence over infants' preferences for faces.
Article
We examined developmental changes in the influence of averageness on judgments of facial attractiveness by showing adults and children pairs of individual faces in which one face was transformed 50% toward its group average, whereas the other face was transformed 50% away from that average. In one comparison, adults and 5-year-olds rated the more average faces as more attractive whether the faces were of adult females, 5-year-old boys, or 5-year-old girls. The influence of averageness, however, was weaker in 5-year-olds than in adults. In another comparison, a new group of adults and 9-year-olds rated the more average faces as more attractive for male and female faces of adults, 9-year-olds, and 5-year-olds. The influence of averageness was again weaker for children than for adults, although the strength of 9-year-olds' preference was greater than that of 5-year-olds. Developmental changes may reflect the refinement of an average face prototype as children are exposed to more faces, increased sensitivity as visual perception develops, and/or the greater salience of attractiveness after puberty.
Article
Adolescence is a time of dramatic physical, cognitive, emotional, and social changes as well as a time for the development of many social-emotional problems. These characteristics raise compelling questions about accompanying neural changes that are unique to this period of development. Here, we propose that studying adolescent-specific changes in face processing and its underlying neural circuitry provides an ideal model for addressing these questions. We also use this model to formulate new hypotheses. Specifically, pubertal hormones are likely to increase motivation to master new peer-oriented developmental tasks, which will in turn, instigate the emergence of new social/affective components of face processing. We also predict that pubertal hormones have a fundamental impact on the re-organization of neural circuitry supporting face processing and propose, in particular, that, the functional connectivity, or temporal synchrony, between regions of the face-processing network will change with the emergence of these new components of face processing in adolescence. Finally, we show how this approach will help reveal why adolescence may be a period of vulnerability in brain development and suggest how it could lead to prevention and intervention strategies that facilitate more adaptive functional interactions between regions within the broader social information processing network.
Article
Face perception remains one of the most intensively researched areas in psychology and allied disciplines, and there has been much debate regarding the early origins and experiential determinants of face processing. This article reviews studies, the majority of which have appeared in the past decade, that discuss possible mechanisms underlying face perception at birth and document the prominent role of experience in shaping infants' face-processing abilities. In the first months of life, infants develop a preference for female and own-race faces and become better able to recognize and categorize own-race and own-species faces. This perceptual narrowing and shaping of the "face space" forms a foundation for later face expertise in childhood and adulthood and testifies to the remarkable plasticity of the developing visual system.
Article
Masculinity in male faces is thought to be a sign of mate quality and is associated with measures of long-term health. Previous studies have demonstrated that women's masculinity preferences change across the menstrual cycle with women preferring more masculine men during phases of the menstrual cycle where fertility is highest (i.e. the late follicular phase). Given the hormonal correlates of such preferences and that these hormones change across the life span, we tested for differences in female masculinity preferences at different ages. We compared the masculinity preferences of peri-pubescent girls and young adult women (Study 1), circum-menopausal women reporting to either be pre- or post-menopause (Study 2), and a large sample of women across a wide range of ages (Study 3). In all three studies, preferences for masculinity in male faces were highest in women who were at a reproductively active age. Preferences for masculinity were lower when females were peri-pubescent, post-menopausal, or at ages corresponding to these groups. These data support the notion that masculinity in male faces is an important trait for reproductively relevant mate choice decisions. These data also highlight a shift in female visual preferences for men that is associated with important stages of the lifespan. Visual preferences appear to track important hormonal changes associated with age; as women pass puberty their preferences shift towards facial traits associated with mate quality and as women undergo menopause their preferences for such facial traits decrease. Overall, these results demonstrate the important role of reproductive status and support the notion that preferences for male faces are tied to reproductively relevant hormones.
Article
Hair's importance in human communication means that abnormalities like excess hair in hirsutism or hair loss in alopecia cause psychological distress. Androgens are the main regulator of human hair follicles, changing small vellus follicles producing tiny, virtually invisible hairs into larger intermediate and terminal follicles making bigger, pigmented hairs. The response to androgens varies with the body site as it is specific to the hair follicle itself. Normally around puberty, androgens stimulate axillary and pubic hair in both sexes, plus the beard, etc. in men, while later they may also inhibit scalp hair growth causing androgenetic alopecia. Androgens act within the follicle to alter the mesenchyme-epithelial cell interactions, changing the length of time the hair is growing, the dermal papilla size and dermal papilla cell, keratinocyte and melanocyte activity. Greater understanding of the mechanisms of androgen action in follicles should improve therapies for poorly controlled hair disorders like hirsutism and alopecia.
Article
This article challenges the widely cited view that the cognitive-developmental level of preschool children prevents them from conserving sex across perceptual transformations-from attaining "gender constancy." Shortcomings in the procedures previously used to assess gender constancy are reviewed, and an empirical study is reported which uses both a new measure of gender constancy and a new test of a child's genital knowledge. It was found that 40% of 3-, 4-, and early 5-year-old children could conserve sex across perceptual transformations, but only if they had the domain-specific knowledge that the genitalia constitute the defining attributes of male and female. Girls had significantly more genital knowledge than boys and displayed more gender constancy. A possible link between a child's genital knowledge and his or her gender traditionalism is discussed.
Article
Developmental processes of "puberty" and their cultural contexts in understanding the emergence of sexual subjectivity, especially sexual attraction, prior to gonadarche are critically examined. In particular, we consider the hypothesis that "sexual attraction" follows the onset of adrenal puberty, termed adrenarche, precipitating the development of stable and memorable attraction toward others approximately by the age of 10. In a prior study, the authors suggested that adrenarche is a significant source of this developmental change in sexuality (McClintock, M., and Herdt, G., 1996). The inferential evidence from New Guinea is compared with recent studies from the United States, including clinical findings on "precocious puberty." We conclude with the question of whether the age of 10 is a human universal in the development of attraction and sexuality.
Children's developing judgments about the physical manifestations of power
  • B F Terrizzi
  • E Brey
  • K Shutts
  • J S Beier
  • M H Tobin-Richards
  • A M Boxer
  • A C Petersen
Terrizzi, B. F., Brey, E., Shutts, K., & Beier, J. S. (2019). Children's developing judgments about the physical manifestations of power. Developmental Psychology, 55, 793. Tobin-Richards, M. H., Boxer, A. M., & Petersen, A. C. (1983). The psychological significance of pubertal change. In J. Brooks-Gunn, & A. C. Petersen (Eds.). Girls at puberty (pp. 127-154). Boston, MA: Springer US. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4899-0354-9_7.