Sexual selection on human faces and voices

David A. Puts, Benedict C. Jones, Lisa M. Debruine

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

144 Citations (Scopus)


Humans are highly sexually dimorphic primates, and some of the most conspicuous human sex differences occur in the face and voice. Consequently, this article utilizes research findings on human faces and voices to illustrate how human sex differences may have arisen by sexual selection (i.e., the type of natural selection favoring traits that increase mating opportunities). Evidence suggesting that sexual selection shaped women's faces and voices is reviewed. However, sexual selection likely operated more strongly on men over human evolution. Thus, this research focuses on two types of sexual selection operating on men: female mate choice, which favors traits that attract females, and male contests, which favor traits for excluding competitors from mates by force or threat of force. This article demonstrates how masculine faces and voices advertize critical information about men's mate value and threat potential, and reviews evidence that women's preferences and men's deference to masculine faces and voices reflect this information content. Data suggesting that facial and vocal masculinity influences men's mating opportunities and reproduction are discussed, and the article concludes by highlighting directions for future research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)227-243
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Sex Research
Issue number2-3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2012


  • sexual selection
  • physical attractiveness
  • evolutionary psychology
  • mate choice
  • decision making
  • face
  • voice


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