Quantifying the strength and form of sexual selection on men's traits

Alexander K. Hill, John Hunt, Lisa L.M. Welling, Rodrigo A. Cárdenas, Michelle A. Rotella, John R. Wheatley, Khytam Dawood, Mark D. Shriver, David A. Puts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

114 Scopus citations


Although recent research has increasingly focused on human sexual selection, fundamental questions remain concerning the relative influence of individual traits on success in competition for mates and the mechanisms, form, and direction of these sexual selective pressures. Here, we explore sexual selection on men's traits by ascertaining men's dominance and attractiveness from male and female acquaintances. On a large American university campus, 63 men from two social fraternities provided anthropometric measurements, facial photographs, voice recordings, and reported mating success (number of sexual partners). These men also assessed each other's dominance, and 72 women from two socially affiliated sororities assessed the men's attractiveness. We measured facial masculinity from inter-landmark distances and vocal masculinity from acoustic parameters. We additionally obtained facial and vocal attractiveness and dominance ratings from unfamiliar observers. Results indicate that dominance and the traits associated with it predict men's mating success, but attractiveness and the traits associated with it do not. These findings point to the salience of contest competition on men's mating success in this population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)334-341
Number of pages8
JournalEvolution and Human Behavior
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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