The motivational salience of a face (i.e., the extent to which people will expend effort to view it) is correlated with both its physical attractiveness and neural reward value. While previous work has shown that women’s face preferences are modulated by changes in hormone levels during the menstrual cycle, studies have not yet investigated how hormones modulate the motivational salience of faces. To explore this issue, we used a standard key-press paradigm to assess the motivational salience of faces across the menstrual cycle in 50 heterosexual women and collected saliva samples in each test session. As in previous work, attractive faces generally held greater motivational salience. However, this effect of attractiveness was greater in test sessions with higher testosterone, particularly for trials on which female faces were presented. These results suggest that testosterone modulates the motivational salience of facial attractiveness.
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