The health of a nation predicts their mate preferences: cross-cultural variation in women's preferences for masculinized male faces

Lisa DeBruine, Benedict C Jones, John R Crawford, Lisa L M Welling, Anthony C Little

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

155 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Recent formulations of sexual selection theory emphasise how mate choice can be affected by environmental factors, such as predation risk and resource quality. Women vary greatly in the extent to which they prefer male masculinity and this variation is hypothesised to reflect differences in how women resolve the trade-off between the costs (e.g., low investment) and benefits (e.g., healthy offspring) associated with choosing a masculine partner. A strong prediction of this trade-off theory is that women’s masculinity preferences will be stronger in cultures where poor health is particularly harmful to survival. We investigated the relationship between women’s preferences for male facial masculinity and a health index derived from World Health Organization statistics for mortality rates, life expectancies, and the impact of communicable disease. Across 30 countries, masculinity preference increased as health decreased. This relationship was independent of cross-cultural differences in wealth or women’s mating strategies. These findings show non-arbitrary cross-cultural differences in facial attractiveness judgments and demonstrate the utility of trade-off theory for investigating cross-cultural variation in women’s mate preferences.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2405-2410
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society of London. B, Biological Sciences
Volume277
Issue number1692
Early online date17 Mar 2010
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 7 Aug 2010

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mating behavior
Masculinity
Health
trade-off
cultural differences
life expectancy
World Health Organization
Statistics
mate choice
predation risk
Life Expectancy
sexual selection
infectious diseases
Communicable Diseases
woman
health
environmental factor
statistics
Economics
predation

Keywords

  • sexual selection
  • masculinity
  • health
  • cross-cultural variation

Cite this

The health of a nation predicts their mate preferences : cross-cultural variation in women's preferences for masculinized male faces. / DeBruine, Lisa; Jones, Benedict C; Crawford, John R; Welling, Lisa L M; Little, Anthony C.

In: Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. B, Biological Sciences, Vol. 277, No. 1692, 07.08.2010, p. 2405-2410.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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