Effects of sexual dimorphism on facial attractiveness
Perrett D.I., Lee K. J., PentonVoak I., Rowland D., Yoshikawa S., Burt D.M.,
Henzi S.P., Castles D.L., Akamatsu S. (1998)
Nature, Vol.394, No.6696, pp.884-887
Testosterone-dependent secondary sexual characteristics in males may signal immunological competence and are sexually selected for in
several species. In humans, oestrogen-dependent characteristics
of the female body correlate with health and reproductive fitness and
are found attractive. Enhancing the sexual dimorphism of human
faces should raise am-activeness by enhancing sex-hormone-related
cues to youth and fertility in females, and to dominance and
immunocompetence in males. Here we report the results of
asking subjects to choose the most attractive faces from continua
that enhanced or diminished differences between the average shape of
female and male faces. As predicted, subjects preferred feminized ta,
average shapes of a female face. This preference applied across UK
and Japanese populations but was stronger for within-population
judgements, which indicates that attractiveness cues are learned.
Subjects preferred feminized to average or masculinized shapes of a
male face. Enhancing masculine facial characteristics increased both
perceived dominance and negative attributions (for example, coldness
or dishonesty) relevant to relationships and paternal investment.
These results indicate a selection pressure that limits sexual
dimorphism and encourages neoteny in humans.