Women's preferences for sexual dimorphism in faces: data from a sample of Arab women

Sarah A.H. Alharbi, Iris J. Holzleitner, Anthony J. Lee, S. Adil Saribay, Benedict C. Jones

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11 Citations (Scopus)
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Many previous studies have investigated the effects of manipulating sexually dimorphic shape characteristics in face images on attractiveness judgments. However, results have been mixed and show considerable cross-cultural variability, particularly for women’s judgments of men’s facial attractiveness. Because very little research has investigated face preferences in Arab samples, we assessed Arab women’s preferences for sexually dimorphic face shapes (study 1) and the effect of sexually dimorphic face shapes on Arab women’s dominance perceptions (study 2). Analyses showed that Arab women preferred feminized versions of both women’s and men’s faces over masculinized versions (study 1, N = 272) and that masculinizing face shape had a positive effect on Arab women’s perceptions of the dominance of men, but not women (study 2, N = 270). These image manipulations did not have a significant effect on perceptions of trustworthiness, however (study 3, N = 434). Collectively, these results suggest that Arab women prefer relatively feminine face shapes in potential mates that they perceive as being low dominance. We discuss some directions for future research on the ultimate function of Arab women’s preferences for sexual dimorphism in faces

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)328-334
Number of pages7
JournalEvolutionary Psychological Science
Issue number4
Early online date14 May 2020
Publication statusPublished - 30 Dec 2020


  • attractiveness
  • culture
  • faces
  • mate preferences


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