Variation in women's preferences for male facial masculinity may reflect variation in attraction to immunocompetence or to maturity. This paper reports two studies on (a) the interrelationships between women's preferences for masculinity, apparent health, and age in male faces and (b) the extent to which manipulating each of these characteristics affects women's attributions of the remaining characteristics. Both studies were carried out with a large sample of the general public (Studies 1a and 2a) and independently in a laboratory environment with smaller undergraduate samples (Studies 1b and 2b). In both samples, masculinity and age preferences were positively related, and masculinity preferences were not associated with preferences for apparent health. There was also a positive relationship between perceived age and perceived masculinity in both samples, but evidence for a link between perceptions of masculinity and health was equivocal. Collectively, these findings suggest that variation in women’s preferences for masculine proportions in male faces reflect variation in attraction to male age and do not support a strict immunocompetence explanation of preferences for facial masculinity.
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