TK Saxton, AC Little, LM DeBruine, BC Jones & SC Roberts (2009). Adolescents' preferences for sexual dimorphism are influenced by relative exposure to male and female faces. European Human Behaviour and Evolution Association in St Andrews, Scotland. April 2009.

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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