Saxton TK, DeBruine LM, Jones BC, Little AC & Roberts SC (2009). Face and voice attractiveness judgments change during adolescence. Evolution and Human Behavior, 30(6): 398-408. doi: 10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2009.06.004

We investigated judgments of facial and vocal traits that affect adults' judgments of attractiveness and that are thought to cue mate value (facial symmetry, averageness and sexual dimorphism, and vocal pitch) among children aged 11 -15, an age group that spans the time during which mate choice judgments are becoming relevant. Children made forced-choice attractiveness judgments of pairs of faces that had been manipulated to look more or less average, more or less feminine, or more or less symmetric, and of pairs of voices that had been manipulated to be lower or higher in pitch. Both the younger and older groups of children selected the more average, symmetric and feminine faces as more attractive significantly more often than chance. However, older children were significantly more likely than younger children to select as more attractive the more average faces, the symmetric male faces, and, when judged by girls but not boys, the feminised male faces. Compared with the boys, the girls selected the more average male faces, and the feminised male and female faces, significantly more often. The older girls were significantly more likely than the younger girls to select the lower pitched boys' voices as more attractive. The younger boys were significantly more likely than the older boys to select the higher-pitched girls' voices as more attractive. Controlling for rater age, increased pubertal development in female judges was associated with increased preference for lower-pitched boys' voices, and increased pubertal development in male judges was associated with decreased preference for femininity in malefaces. Our results are the first demonstration that age and pubertal development have measurable effects on adolescents' attractiveness judgments of facial averageness, symmetry and sexual dimorphism, and vocal pitch.

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