(199 kB) Smith FG, DeBruine LM, Jones BC, Welling LLM, Vukovic J & Main JC (2009). Waist-hip ration, but not BMI, influences women's preferences for masculine male faces. European Human Behaviour and Evolution Association in St Andrews, Scotland. April 2009.

Women with high self-rated attractiveness, other-rated attractiveness, and low waist-hip ratio (WHR) prefer masculine male faces more than relatively unattractive women. Such condition-dependent preferences may occur because attractive women can more easily offset the costs associated with choosing a masculine partner, such as lack of commitment and less interest in parenting. Alternatively, if attractive women are treated better than relatively unattractive women by masculine men, then attractive women may perceive masculine men to have more positive personality traits. Here, we measured attributions of both attractiveness and trustworthiness to masculine versus feminine male faces in order to determine if the association between women’s attractiveness and masculinity preference was driven by differences in the attribution of prosocial traits. We also measured both WHR and body-mass index (BMI) in order to determine which body measurement was the better predictor of masculinity preferences. Consistent with other reports on condition-dependent preferences, women with a low, attractive WHR had stronger preferences for masculine male faces than did women with a relatively high, unattractive WHR. This result remained when controlling for BMI, but no effect of BMI controlling for WHR was found. There was no association between attributions of trustworthiness to masculine male faces and either WHR or BMI. This finding provides evidence against the hypothesis that attractive women prefer masculine men more than unattractive women do because attractive women are less likely to perceive masculine men as having negative personality traits.

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