Individual differences in empathizing and systemizing predict variation in face preferences

Finlay G. Smith, Benedict C. Jones, Lisa M. DeBruine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

10 Citations (Scopus)


Previous studies demonstrate that the extent to which individuals display exaggerated sex-typical physical characteristics is positively correlated with the extent to which they prefer sexually dimorphic physical characteristics in opposite-sex individuals. It is unclear, however, whether individual differences in sex-typical psychological traits predict variation in mate preferences in a similar manner. To investigate this issue, we examined the relationship between the sex-typical psychological traits empathizing and systemizing and the strength of participants' preferences for sexually dimorphic shape cues in own- and opposite-sex faces. Women's empathizing scores were positively correlated with the strength of their preferences for masculine men and men's systemizing scores were positively correlated with the strength of their preferences for feminine women. By contrast with these findings for opposite-sex faces, neither empathizing nor systemizing scores predicted men's or women's preferences for sexually dimorphic cues in own-sex faces. Collectively, these findings suggest that sex-typical psychological traits have effects on attractiveness judgments that are strikingly similar to those previously reported for sex-typical physical characteristics and, potentially, implicate individual differences in empathizing and systemizing in variation in mate preferences.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)655-658
Number of pages4
JournalPersonality and Individual Differences
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2010


  • attractiveness
  • empathizing
  • femininity
  • masculinity
  • sexual dimorphism
  • systemizing

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