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The role of sexually dimorphic skin colour and shape in attractiveness of male faces

Carrito, MDL; Santos, IMBD; Lefevre, CE; Whitehead, RD; Silva, CFD; Perrett, DI; (2016) The role of sexually dimorphic skin colour and shape in attractiveness of male faces. Evolution and Human Behavior , 37 (2) pp. 125-133. 10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2015.09.006. Green open access

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Abstract

Evidence for attraction to sexually dimorphic features in male faces is inconsistent in the literature. Mixed results regarding facial masculinity and male attractiveness may arise partly from different influences of face shape and face colouration depending on whether colour was controlled. Recent research suggests that masculinity in face colour, namely darker skin, and femininity in shape are attractive in male faces. Here we examine the influence of sexual dimorphism in skin colour and face shape on attractiveness in 3 experiments. We allowed female participants to manipulate male and female face images along axes of sexual dimorphism in skin colour and/or shape in order to optimise attractiveness. Participants searching for the most attractive appearance chose to masculinise the colour of male faces more than the colour of female faces (although not reaching significance in Experiment 3; p = .16). We found a clear preference for feminine shape in male faces supporting predictions of recent research. These results help to clarify the influence of facial masculinity in women's attractiveness preferences.

Type: Article
Title: The role of sexually dimorphic skin colour and shape in attractiveness of male faces
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2015.09.006
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2015.09.0...
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © 2016. This manuscript version is published under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial Non-derivative 4.0 International licence (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0). This licence allows you to share, copy, distribute and transmit the work for personal and non-commercial use providing author and publisher attribution is clearly stated. Further details about CC BY licences are available at http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0.
Keywords: Face perception; Attractiveness; Sexual dimorphism; Face shape; Skin colour; Masculinity
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Clinical, Edu and Hlth Psychology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1485093
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