Populational differences in attractiveness judgements of male and female faces: Comparing British and Jamaican samples

IS Penton-Voak, A Jacobson, R Trivers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

109 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

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.
Translated title of the contributionPopulational differences in attractiveness judgements of male and female faces: Comparing British and Jamaican samples
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)355 - 370
Number of pages16
JournalEvolution and Human Behavior
Volume25 (6)
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2004

Bibliographical note

Publisher: Elsevier Science

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