BC Jones, CL Fincher, LLM Welling, AC Little, DR Feinberg, CD Watkins, EAS Al-Dujaili & LM DeBruine (2013). Salivary cortisol and pathogen disgust predict menís preferences for feminine shape cues in womenís faces. Biological Psychology, 92(2): 233-240. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsycho.2012.11.014

Recent studies suggest that individuals who are particularly concerned about infectious diseases show stronger preferences for exaggerated sex-typical characteristics in potential matesí faces. However, these studies have generally investigated individual differences in womenís mate preferences and relied on questionnaires to assess disease-related concerns. Here we show that menís scores on the pathogen disgust subscale of the Three Domains of Disgust Scale are positively correlated with their preferences for femininity in womenís faces and that this relationship is independent of the possible effects of both sexual and moral disgust. We then show that men with higher trait (i.e., average) salivary cortisol, a biomarker for immunosuppression, have stronger preferences for femininity in womenís faces. Finally, we show that pathogen disgust is correlated with partnered menís femininity ratings of both their actual and ideal romantic partner. Together, these findings suggest that disease-related factors are important for individual differences in menís mate preferences.

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