SUMMARY: Some women -- and men -- prefer pretty boys.
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 attractiveness 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 to 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.
For women, choosing a facially masculine man as a mate is thought to confer genetic benefits to offspring. Crucial assumptions of this hypothesis have not been adequately tested. It has been assumed that variation in facial masculinity is due to genetic variation and that genetic factors that increase male facial masculinity do not increase facial masculinity in female relatives. We objectively quantified the facial masculinity in photos of identical (n = 411) and nonidentical (n = 782) twins and their siblings (n = 106). Using biometrical modeling, we found that much of the variation in male and female facial masculinity is genetic. However, we also found that masculinity of male faces is unrelated to their attractiveness and that facially masculine men tend to have facially masculine, less-attractive sisters. These findings challenge the idea that facially masculine men provide net genetic benefits to offspring and call into question this popular theoretical framework.
You know I'm not into shaved, buffed and puffed and always happier when -- even if it's smooth -- it's natural. But there are lotsa dudes who like this blog who also like the look, so here you go . . .