FG Smith, BC Jones, LLM Welling, AC Little, J Vukovic, JC Main & LM DeBruine (2009). Waist-hip ratio, but not BMI, influences women’s preferences for masculine male faces. Personality and Individual Differences, 47(5): 476-480. doi: 10.1016/j.paid.2009.04.022

Several studies show that attractive women demonstrate stronger preferences for masculine men than relatively unattractive women do. Such condition-dependent preferences may occur because attractive women can more easily offset the costs associated with choosing a masculine partner, such as lack of commitment and less interest in parenting. Alternatively, if masculine men display negative characteristics less to attractive women than to unattractive women, attractive women may perceive masculine men to have more positive personality traits than relatively unattractive women do. Here, we examined how two indices of women’s attractiveness, body mass index (BMI) and waist-hip ratio (WHR), relate to both preferences for masculinized versus feminized male faces and how trustworthy masculinized versus feminized male faces are considered to be. Consistent with previous studies, women with a low (attractive) WHR had stronger preferences for masculine male faces than did women with a relatively high (unattractive) WHR. This relationship remained significant when controlling for possible effects of BMI. Furthermore, neither WHR nor BMI predicted perceptions of trustworthiness. These findings present converging evidence for condition-dependent mate preferences in women and suggest that such preferences do not reflect individual differences in the extent to which pro-social traits are ascribed to feminine versus masculine men.

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