FG Smith, BC Jones, LM DeBruine, LLM Welling, J Vukovic, JC Main & AC Little (2009). Waist-hip ratio predicts women's preferences for masculine male faces, but not perceptions of men's trustworthiness. Human Behavior and Evolution Society in Fullerton, CA, USA. May 2009.

Previous studies have shown 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 attractive women are treated better than relatively unattractive women by masculine men, attractive women may perceive masculine men to have more positive personality traits than relatively unattractive women do. Here, we tested for relationships among two indices of women's attractiveness: body mass index (BMI) and waist-hip ratio (WHR); their preferences for masculinized versus feminized male faces; and the extent to which they perceived femininized male faces to be more trustworthy than masculinized male faces. Consistent with previous studies, women with a low (i.e. attractive) WHR had stronger preferences for masculine male faces than women with a relatively high (i.e. unattractive WHR) did. This relationship remained significant when controlling for possible effects of BMI and 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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