Study shows men find women with more feminine faces more attractive, but less so in harsh environments

April 30, 2014 by Bob Yirka report
Relationship between femininity preference index and NHI. Credit: Biology Letters, Published 30 April 2014 doi: 10.1098/rsbl.2013.0850

(Medical Xpress)—A large team made up of researchers from around the globe has found that men are less attracted to a feminine female face if they are living in under harsh conditions. In their paper published in the journal Biology Letters, the team describes how they showed male volunteers pictures of altered female faces while asking which they found more sexually attractive, and what they learned as a result.

It's no secret that men like feminine looking faces on , oftentimes such women are seen as "prettier." But, what happens when people are living under harsh economic conditions? Does it change what men find attractive in women? That's what the researchers with this new effort sought to learn.

To gain a better perspective on feminine female facial attraction, the researchers sought out the opinions of 1,972 male heterosexual men (age 18 to 24) living in 28 different countries. Each was shown multiple pairs of photographs of Caucasian women's faces. Each pair consisted of digitally altered images of the same woman—one picture showed a more feminine face (fuller lips, bigger eyes, etc.), the other with more masculine traits. The men were asked which of each pair they found more sexually attractive.

Unsurprisingly, the majority of men from every country represented chose the more feminine version of the women as more sexually attractive. But, the ratio's differed significantly. The researchers found that men in more advanced countries, such as Japan, Sweden or even Singapore, were much more likely (three fourths of the time) to choose the more feminine faces, than were men who lived in places like Nigeria or Nepal, (they chose the more feminine face just over half the time) where economic conditions are rough, to say the least.

The findings suggest, the researchers claim, that men living in a harsh world might find stronger looking women more desirable—their offspring might have a better chance of survival. Or perhaps, they may play a stronger or more dominant role in social settings, making them seem the better partner. There is also the possibility that men living in have lower levels of testosterone than those who are better nourished living in more healthy environments—prior studies have shown that such levels have an impact on how strongly are attracted to feminine traits in women.

Explore further: A woman's face drives relationship length: study

More information: Cross-cultural variation in men's preference for sexual dimorphism in women's faces, Biology Letters, Published 30 April 2014 DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2013.0850

Abstract
Both attractiveness judgements and mate preferences vary considerably cross-culturally. We investigated whether men's preference for femininity in women's faces varies between 28 countries with diverse health conditions by analysing responses of 1972 heterosexual participants. Although men in all countries preferred feminized over masculinized female faces, we found substantial differences between countries in the magnitude of men's preferences. Using an average femininity preference for each country, we found men's facial femininity preferences correlated positively with the health of the nation, which explained 50.4% of the variation among countries. The weakest preferences for femininity were found in Nepal and strongest in Japan. As high femininity in women is associated with lower success in competition for resources and lower dominance, it is possible that in harsher environments, men prefer cues to resource holding potential over high fecundity.

Related Stories

A woman's face drives relationship length: study

June 21, 2013
Men looking for a quick fling prefer women with more "feminine" facial features, said a study Friday that delved into the evolutionary determinants of the mating game.

Study finds men most attractive with heavy-stubble

April 29, 2013
(Medical Xpress)—A research team from the Evolution and Ecology Research Centre at the University of New South Wales has found that women find men most attractive when they have approximately ten days of beard growth. In ...

Younger men receive faster care for heart attacks, angina compared with women of same age

March 17, 2014
A new study indicates that in younger adults experiencing heart attacks and angina, men are more likely to receive faster care compared with women. The study, published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal) also ...

Why the masculine face? Genetic evidence reveals drawbacks of hyper-masculine features

January 24, 2014
Studying sex differences seldom gets boring. While the origins of differences in behaviour and cognition remain fiercely - and quite rightly - disputed, we don't sweat quite as much about why women and men differ in size ...

Recommended for you

New study rebuts the claim that antidepressants do not work

August 18, 2017
A theory that has gained considerable attention in international media, including Newsweek and the CBS broadcast 60 minutes, suggests that antidepressant drugs such as the SSRIs do not exert any actual antidepressant effect. ...

Should I stay or should I leave? Untangling what goes on when a relationship is being questioned

August 17, 2017
Knowing whether to stay in or leave a romantic relationship is often an agonizing experience and that ambivalence can have negative consequences for health and well-being.

Kids learn moral lessons more effectively from stories with humans than human-like animals

August 17, 2017
A study by researchers at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) at the University of Toronto found that four to six-year-olds shared more after listening to books with human characters than books with anthropomorphic ...

History of stress increases miscarriage risk, says new review

August 17, 2017
A history of exposure to psychological stress can increase the risk of miscarriage by upto 42 per cent, according to a new review.

Study finds children pay close attention to potentially threatening information, avoid eye contact when anxious

August 17, 2017
We spend a lot of time looking at the eyes of others for social cues – it helps us understand a person's emotions, and make decisions about how to respond to them. We also know that adults avoid eye contact when anxious. ...

Communicating in a foreign language takes emotion out of decision making

August 16, 2017
If you could save the lives of five people by pushing another bystander in front of a train to his death, would you do it? And should it make any difference if that choice is presented in a language you speak, but isn't your ...

2 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Huns
5 / 5 (1) Apr 30, 2014
They only showed the men caucasian women. This should have been done with a multiracial group of women. I can't imagine why they didn't.
sirchick
not rated yet May 20, 2014
They only showed the men caucasian women. This should have been done with a multiracial group of women. I can't imagine why they didn't.


Have you ever seen researchers in these types of studies on humans or health pattern use a data sample of significant numbers of variation.. the answer no...never. Its ridiculous.

They do a study of about 2,000 people to find patterns when there is over 6 billion people... and they think 2,000 is a good representation for all of us.

Granted funding is a factor and many other things.. but 2,000 is pathetically small sample. As is the only caucasian issue unless it deliberately about caucasian women for reasons i do not know.

It should also be categorised in intelligence level too. In either harsh or non environments the intelligent people are going to be less critical over looks because they will require emotional support that looks don't bring.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.