Testing immunocompetence explanations of male facial masculinity

Lynda G. Boothroyd, Jamie F. Lawson, D. Michael Burt

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

13 Citations (Scopus)


Currently the Immunocompetence Hypothesis dominates research into female attraction to male facial masculinity. Although studies have shown links between masculinity and possible indicators of health such as fluctuating asymmetry, preferences for facial masculinity do not co-vary with preferences for apparent health (BOOTHROYD et al. 2005). Here we build on that work with two studies. Study 1 addresses the concern that apparent health may not fully reflect long term immune function by investigating how masculinity preferences correlate with preferences for other potential indicators of ‘good genes’: symmetry and averageness. Study 2 investigated whether masculinity preferences were dependant upon the presence of other indicators of ‘good immunity’ in the face, by showing observers both symmetric and asymmetric masculinity stimuli. Across three samples, women's masculinity preferences were inversely correlated with symmetry preferences, counter to prediction, and there were no consistent associations with apparent health or averageness. Results of Study 2 suggested that masculinity preferences may be enhanced in symmetric stimuli; however, these results appear to have been driven by a single stimulus, suggesting that more research is needed into the potential importance of initial stimulus properties when investigating masculinity preferences.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-81
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Evolutionary Psychology
Issue number1
Early online date11 Mar 2009
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2009


  • averageness,facial attraction,health,masculinity,mate choice,symmetry


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