Does attractiveness in men provide clues to semen quality?


Marianne Peters, School of Psychology, University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Highway, Crawley, WA 6009, Australia.
Tel: +61 8 6488 3573; fax: +61 8 6488 1006;


The psychological mechanisms underlying attractiveness judgements in humans are thought to be evolved adaptations for finding a high quality mate. The phenotype-linked fertility hypothesis proposes that females obtain reliable information on male fertility from male expression of sexual traits. A previous study of Spanish men reported that facial attractiveness was positively associated with semen quality. We aimed to determine whether this effect was widespread by examining a large sample of Australian men. We also extended our study to determine whether cues to semen quality are provided by components of attractiveness: masculinity, averageness and symmetry. Each male participant was photographed and provided a semen sample that was analyzed for sperm morphology, motility and concentration. Two independent sets of women rated the male photographs for attractiveness, and three further sets of 12 women rated the photographs for masculinity, symmetry or averageness. We found no significant correlations between semen quality parameters and attractiveness or attractive traits. Although male physical attractiveness may signal aspects of mate quality, our results suggest that phenotype-linked cues to male fertility may not be general across human populations.