Marcinkowska U & Holzleitner IJ (in press). Stability of women’s facial shape throughout the menstrual cycle. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B . [data]

Facial characteristics can serve as a cue for judgements of multiple human traits, from maternal tendencies, overall fertility to sexual openness. In this study, we tested previously found fluctuations in facial shape throughout the menstrual cycle. With methods more robust than those formerly used (larger sample size and detailed hormonal assessments determining the timing of the ovulation) we did not find significant changes in either of the three facial measurements conducted: symmetry, averageness and sexual dimorphism (all F≤0.78, all partial η2≤0.01, all p≥.542). After narrowing the sample to cycles that had a higher probability of being ovulatory (based on daily measurements of luteinizing hormone and estradiol), the results remained non-significant (all F≤1.20, all partial η2≤0.03, all p≥.315). Our results 1) suggest that the previously found increased facial attractiveness of women in the most fertile phase of the menstrual cycle is not driven by changes in facial shape, but might instead stem from other changes in facial appearance, such as a more attractive skin tone, 2) underline the importance of replication of studies with new methods.

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