Do more attractive women show stronger preferences for male facial masculinity?

Ciaran Docherty, Anthony J. Lee, Amanda C. Hahn, Lisa M. DeBruine, Benedict C. Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
23 Downloads (Pure)


Researchers have suggested that more attractive women will show stronger preferences for masculine men because such women are better placed to offset the potential costs of choosing a masculine mate. However, evidence for correlations between measures of women's own attractiveness and preferences for masculine men is mixed. Moreover, the samples used to test this hypothesis are typically relatively small. Consequently, we conducted two large-scale studies that investigated possible associations between women's preferences for facial masculinity and their own attractiveness as assessed from third-party ratings of their facial attractiveness (Study 1, N = 454, laboratory study) and self-rated attractiveness (Study 2, N = 8972, online study). Own attractiveness was positively correlated with preferences for masculine men in Study 2 (self-rated attractiveness), but not Study 1 (third-party ratings of facial attractiveness). This pattern of results is consistent with the proposal that women's beliefs about their own attractiveness, rather than their physical condition per se, underpins attractiveness-contingent masculinity preferences.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)312-317
Number of pages6
JournalEvolution and Human Behavior
Issue number4
Early online date20 May 2020
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jul 2020


  • attractiveness
  • condition
  • faces
  • masculinity
  • mate preferences


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