The physical attractiveness of faces is positively correlated with both behavioral and neural measures of their motivational salience. Although previous work suggests that hormone levels modulate women’s perceptions of others’ facial attractiveness, studies have not yet investigated whether hormone levels also modulate the motivational salience of facial characteristics. To address this issue, we investigated the relationships between within-subject changes in women’s salivary hormone levels (estradiol, progesterone, testosterone, and estradiol-to-progesterone ratio) and within-subject changes in the motivational salience of attractiveness and sexual dimorphism in male and female faces. The motivational salience of physically attractive faces in general and feminine female faces, but not masculine male faces, was greater in test sessions where women had high testosterone levels. Additionally, the reward value of sexually dimorphic faces in general and attractive female faces, but not attractive male faces, was greater in test sessions where women had high estradiol-to-progesterone ratios. These results provide the first evidence that the motivational salience of facial attractiveness and sexual dimorphism is modulated by within-woman changes in hormone levels.
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