Kandrik M, Hahn AC, Wincenciak J, Fisher C, DeBruine LM & Jones BC (2015). Men’s testosterone and cortisol predict their preferences for healthy color cues in faces. Human Behavior and Evolution Society in Columbia, Missouri, USA. May 2015.

Recent work on the behavioral immune system suggests that preferences for facial cues of health function to reduce our exposure to pathogens and are stronger among individuals who are particularly susceptible to infectious diseases. Other recent work on men’s immune function found that immune responses to a vaccine were positively correlated with testosterone and that this correlation was strongest among men with low cortisol. Here we combine these two recent research streams to investigate whether testosterone and cortisol also interact to influence men’s preferences for health-related color cues in faces. We collected saliva samples from 51 men in five weekly test sessions, also measuring their preferences for health-related facial color cues in each test session. Analyses of these preferences showed that men with high testosterone levels generally showed weaker preferences for health-related color cues and that this relationship was particularly strong among men with low cortisol. Our results for men’s facial color preferences, together with those of other recent work on men’s immune system response, suggest that testosterone and cortisol have similar effects on men’s behavioral and physiological immune systems.

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