Women's physical and psychological condition independently predict their preference for apparent health in faces

Benedict Christopher Jones, A. C. Little, L. Boothroyd, D. R. Feinberg, E. C. Cornwell, Lisa DeBruine, S. C. Roberts, I. S. Penton-Voak, M. J. Law Smith, F. R. Moore, H. P. Davis, D. I. Perrett

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41 Citations (Scopus)


Physical condition (e.g., health, fertility) influences female mate preferences in many species, with females in good condition preferring "higher quality" (e.g., healthier) mates. In humans, condition may comprise both physical (e.g., health and fertility) and psychological factors (e.g., stress, anxiety, and depression). We found that women with low waist-to-hip ratios (indicating health and fertility) or who scored low on anxiety, depression, and stress measures expressed greater attraction to composite male (but not female) faces with color and texture cues associated with apparent health than did women with relatively high waist-to-hip ratios or who scored relatively high on the anxiety, depression, and stress measures. These effects of physical and psychological condition were independent and were not mediated by women's perceptions of their own attractiveness. Our findings indicate that women's physical and psychological conditions both contribute to individual differences in face preferences. (c) 2005 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)451-457
Number of pages7
JournalEvolution and Human Behavior
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2005


  • attraction
  • health
  • waist-hip ratio
  • anxiety
  • stress
  • individual differences
  • facial attractiveness
  • sexual dimorphism
  • mate choice

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