Effects of Male Facial Masculinity on Perceived Attractiveness

Omid Ekrami, Peter Claes, Mark D. Shriver, Seth M. Weinberg, Mary L. Marazita, Susan Walsh, Stefan Van Dongen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Objectives:: Studies suggest that high levels of masculinity in men can be a signal of ‘better genes’ as well as low parental investment. It is the trade-off between these two qualities that has led to the hypothesis that women’s preferences for male masculinity are condition-dependent, yet, not all studies support this hypothesis. In addition, there is evidence that more average faces would be perceived as more attractive. Here we study the variation in masculinity preferences of a cohort of heterosexual women (n = 769), using manipulated 3D faces of male subjects. We used linear mixed models to test for effects of various covariates such as relationship status, use of hormonal contraception, sociosexual orientation and self-perceived attractiveness on preference for masculinity. Results:: Our results show that women’s sociosexual orientation has a positive correlation with masculinity preference while using hormonal contraception decreases this preference. None of the other covariates displayed any significant effect on masculinity preference. The initial level of masculinity of the faces (very low, low, average, high and very high) was also shown to affect this preference, where we found a significant preference for higher masculinity in the very low and average group, while no preference was found in the other groups. Conclusion:: Our findings support the notion that condition-dependent variables have very small effects, if any, on women’s preference for masculinity in men.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)73-88
Number of pages16
JournalAdaptive Human Behavior and Physiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physiology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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