This research investigated the partner characteristics that are attributed to male facial masculinity, and how these characteristics compare to those attributed to increased age or health in faces. We found that masculinity is perceived as reflecting heightened dominance, but reduced suitability as a long term partner. This is concordant with previous studies and supports the proposal that a masculinity preference could reflect attraction to dominance rather than immunocompetence. Increased health in faces was perceived as increasing dominance, wealth and pro-social traits (faithfulness, commitment, parenting, etc.), which weakens the widely held supposition that health is closely related to masculinity in facial attraction. Results regarding facial maturity were mixed across studies. Furthermore, Study 2 found that the perceived attributes of faces clustered into two dimensions; the first dimension being a ‘halo’ of all seven desirable traits (which varies with healthiness), and the second dimension being a perception of dominance and unsuitability as a partner (which varies with masculinity).
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