Buckingham G, DeBruine LM, Little AC, Welling LLM, Conway CA, Tiddeman BP & Jones BC (2006). Visual adaptation to masculine and feminine faces influences generalized preferences and perceptions of trustworthiness. Evolution and Human Behavior, 27(5): 381-389. doi: 10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2006.03.001

Although previous studies of individual differences in preferences for masculinity in male faces have typically emphasised the importance of factors such as changes in levels of sex hormones during the menstrual cycle, other research has demonstrated that recent visual experience with faces also influences preferences for sexual dimorphism in faces. Adaptation to either masculine or feminine faces increases preferences for novel faces that are similar to those that were recently seen. Here we replicate this effect and demonstrate that adaptation to masculine or feminine faces also influences the extent to which masculine faces are perceived as trustworthy. These adaptation effects may reflect a proximate mechanism that contributes to the development of face preferences within individuals, that underpins phenomena such as imprinting-like effects and condition-dependent face preferences, and that shapes personality attributions to faces that play an important role in romantic partner and associate choices. Furthermore, our findings also support the proposal that visual exposure alone cannot explain the context-specificity of attitudes to self-resemblance in faces.

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