Female reproductive strategy predicts preferences for sexual dimorphism in male faces

Fhionna R. Moore, Miriam J. Law Smith, Clare Cassidy, David I. Perrett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Abstract

The aim of the current studies was to test an assumption that variation in female preferences for sexually dimorphic male facial characteristics reflects strategic optimisation of investment in offspring. A negative relationship was predicted between ideal number of children and preferences for masculine male face shapes, as the benefits of securing paternal investment should outweigh the benefits of securing good genes as the costs of raising offspring increase. In Study 1 desired number of children and preferences for masculine face shapes were compared in a sample of female students. In study 2, the prediction was tested in a sample with a wider age profile while controlling for relationship status. Preferences for explicit partner characteristics were also assessed. The prediction was supported: women who desired a higher number of children preferred more feminine male face shapes and ranked cues to investment of parental care over cues to immunocompetence in a partner more highly than those who desired fewer children. Results indicate that female mate preferences vary with reproductive strategy and support assumptions that preferences for feminine male faces reflect preferences for “good dads”.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)211-224
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Evolutionary Psychology
Volume7
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2009

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Moore, F. R., Law Smith, M. J., Cassidy, C., & Perrett, D. I. (2009). Female reproductive strategy predicts preferences for sexual dimorphism in male faces. Journal of Evolutionary Psychology, 7(3), 211-224. DOI: 10.1556/JEP.7.2009.3.2

Moore, Fhionna R.; Law Smith, Miriam J.; Cassidy, Clare; Perrett, David I. / Female reproductive strategy predicts preferences for sexual dimorphism in male faces.

In: Journal of Evolutionary Psychology, Vol. 7, No. 3, 09.2009, p. 211-224.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Moore, FR, Law Smith, MJ, Cassidy, C & Perrett, DI 2009, 'Female reproductive strategy predicts preferences for sexual dimorphism in male faces' Journal of Evolutionary Psychology, vol 7, no. 3, pp. 211-224. DOI: 10.1556/JEP.7.2009.3.2

Female reproductive strategy predicts preferences for sexual dimorphism in male faces. / Moore, Fhionna R.; Law Smith, Miriam J.; Cassidy, Clare; Perrett, David I.

In: Journal of Evolutionary Psychology, Vol. 7, No. 3, 09.2009, p. 211-224.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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AB - The aim of the current studies was to test an assumption that variation in female preferences for sexually dimorphic male facial characteristics reflects strategic optimisation of investment in offspring. A negative relationship was predicted between ideal number of children and preferences for masculine male face shapes, as the benefits of securing paternal investment should outweigh the benefits of securing good genes as the costs of raising offspring increase. In Study 1 desired number of children and preferences for masculine face shapes were compared in a sample of female students. In study 2, the prediction was tested in a sample with a wider age profile while controlling for relationship status. Preferences for explicit partner characteristics were also assessed. The prediction was supported: women who desired a higher number of children preferred more feminine male face shapes and ranked cues to investment of parental care over cues to immunocompetence in a partner more highly than those who desired fewer children. Results indicate that female mate preferences vary with reproductive strategy and support assumptions that preferences for feminine male faces reflect preferences for “good dads”.

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Moore FR, Law Smith MJ, Cassidy C, Perrett DI. Female reproductive strategy predicts preferences for sexual dimorphism in male faces. Journal of Evolutionary Psychology. 2009 Sep;7(3):211-224. Available from, DOI: 10.1556/JEP.7.2009.3.2