Male facial appearance signals physical strength to women

Authors

  • Bernhard Fink,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Sociobiology/Anthropology, University of Göttingen, D-37073 Göttingen, Germany
    • Department of Sociobiology and Anthropology, Institute for Zoology and Anthropology, University of Göttingen, Berliner Strasse 28, D-37073 Göttingen, Germany
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  • Nick Neave,

    1. Human Cognitive Neuroscience Unit, School of Psychology and Sport Sciences, Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 8ST, UK
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  • Hanna Seydel

    1. Department of Sociobiology/Anthropology, University of Göttingen, D-37073 Göttingen, Germany
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Abstract

Previous studies showed that male faces with extreme features that are likely to be associated with testosterone (T) are perceived as dominant and masculine. Women were reported to prefer masculinized male faces, as they may consider T markers to be an “honest” indication of good health. However, it is also likely that female preferences for certain male faces arise from the fact that dominant- and masculine-looking males are signaling characteristics which may be beneficial in intrasexual conflict, and thereby also indicate potential achievers of high status, an important factor in female mate selection. Although numerous studies were built on this assumption, nothing is known about the relationship between perceived facial dominance and physical strength in men. We measured hand-grip strength, as a measure of overall physical strength, in a sample of 32 male students, and recorded age, body weight, and height. Seventy-nine women rated facial images of these men for dominance, masculinity, and attractiveness. After controlling for age and body weight, hand-grip strength was found to correlate significantly positively with all three measures. The present data thus support the supposition that a male's physical strength is also signaled via facial characteristics of dominance and masculinity, which are considered attractive by women. Am. J. Hum. Biol. 19:82–87, 2007. © 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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