The relative importance of intra- and intersexual selection on human male sexually dimorphic traits

Tobias L. Kordsmeyer, John Hunt, David A. Puts, Julia Ostner, Lars Penke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

71 Scopus citations


Recent evidence suggests that in sexual selection on human males, intrasexual competition plays a larger role than female choice. In a sample of men (N = 164), we sought to provide further evidence on the effects of men's physical dominance and sexual attractiveness on mating success and hence in sexual selection. Objective measures and subjective ratings of male sexually dimorphic traits purportedly under sexual selection (height, vocal and facial masculinity, upper body size from 3D scans, physical strength, and baseline testosterone) and observer perceptions of physical dominance and sexual attractiveness based on self-presentation video recordings were assessed and associated with mating success (sociosexual behaviour and number of potential conceptions) in a partly longitudinal design. Results from structural equation models and selection analyses revealed that physical dominance, but not sexual attractiveness, predicted mating success. Physical dominance mediated associations of upper body size, physical strength, as well as vocal and facial physical dominance and attractiveness with mating success. These findings thus suggest a greater importance of intrasexual competition than female choice in human male sexual selection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)424-436
Number of pages13
JournalEvolution and Human Behavior
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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


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