Although people agree broadly on what constitutes an attractive face, individual differences in attractiveness judgments remain. Exposure to a particular population of faces can increase ratings of the normality and attractiveness of similar-looking faces, and can lead to a refinement in the perceived boundaries of that face population, such that other faces are more readily perceived as dissimilar. We predicted that relatively less exposure to opposite-sex faces, as experienced by children at single-sex compared with mixed-sex schools, would decrease ratings of the attractiveness of sexual dimorphism in opposite-sex faces (that is, boys at single-sex school would show a decreased preference for feminised faces, and girls at single-sex schools would show a decreased preference for masculinised faces). Consistent with this prediction, boys at single-sex compared with mixed-sex schools demonstrated significantly stronger preferences for facial masculinity in female faces, and girls at single-sex compared with mixed-sex schools demonstrated significantly stronger preferences for facial femininity in male faces. These effects were also found when rating same-sex faces. These data add to the evidence that long-term exposure to a particular population of faces can influence judgments of other faces, and contribute to our understanding of the factors leading to individual differences in face preferences.
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