Sociosexuality predicts women's preferences for symmetry in men's faces

Michelle C. Quist, Christopher D. Watkins, Finlay G. Smith, Anthony C. Little, Lisa M. Debruine, Benedict C. Jones*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


Although men displaying cues of good physical condition possess traits that are desirable inamate (e.g., good health), these men are also more likely to possess antisocial characteristics that are undesirable in a long-term partner (e.g., aggression and tendency to infidelity). How women resolve this trade-off between the costs and benefits associated with choosing a mate in good physical condition may lead to strategic variation in women's mate preferences. Because the costs of choosing a mate with antisocial personality characteristics are greater in long-than short-term relationships, women's sociosexuality (i.e., the extent to which they are interested in uncommitted sexual relationships) may predict individual differences in their mate preferences. Here we investigated variation in 99 heterosexual women's preferences for facial symmetry, a characteristic that is thought to be an important cue of physical condition. Symmetry preferences were assessed using pairs of symmetrized and original (i.e., relatively asymmetric) versions of 10 male and 10 female faces.Analyses showed that women's sociosexuality, and their sociosexual attitude in particular, predicted their preferences for symmetry in men's, but not women's, faces; women who reported being more interested in short-term, uncommitted relationships demonstrated stronger attraction to symmetric men. Our findings present new evidence for potentially adaptive variation in women's symmetry preferences that is consistent with trade-off theories of attraction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1415-1421
Number of pages7
JournalArchives of Sexual Behavior
Issue number6
Early online date1 Sept 2011
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2012


  • face perception
  • fluctuating asymmetry
  • mating strategy
  • sociosexuality
  • symmetry


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