Human preferences for sexually dimorphic faces may be evolutionarily novel

Scott, Isabel M., Clark, Andrew P., Josephson, Steven C., Boyette, Adam H., Cuthill, Innes C., Fried, Ruby L., Gibson, Mhairi A., Hewlett, Barry S., Jamieson, Mark, Jankowiak, William, Honey, P. Lynne, Huang, Zejun, Liebert, Melissa A., Purzycki, Benjamin G., Shaver, John H., Snodgrass, J. Josh, Sosis, Richard, Sugiyama, Lawrence S., Swami, Viren, Yu, Douglas W., Zhao, Yangke and Penton-voak, Ian S. (2014) Human preferences for sexually dimorphic faces may be evolutionarily novel. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS), 111 (40). pp. 14388-14393. ISSN 0027-8424

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Abstract

A large literature proposes that preferences for exaggerated sex typicality in human faces (masculinity/femininity) reflect a long evolutionary history of sexual and social selection. This proposal implies that dimorphism was important to judgments of attractive- ness and personality in ancestral environments. It is difficult to evaluate, however, because most available data come from large- scale, industrialized, urban populations. Here, we report the results for 12 populations with very diverse levels of economic develop- ment. Surprisingly, preferences for exaggerated sex-specific traits are only found in the novel, highly developed environments. Sim- ilarly, perceptions that masculine males look aggressive increase strongly with development and, specifically, urbanization. These data challenge the hypothesis that facial dimorphism was an im- portant ancestral signal of heritable mate value. One possibility is that highly developed environments provide novel opportunities to discern relationships between facial traits and behavior by ex- posing individuals to large numbers of unfamiliar faces, revealing patterns too subtle to detect with smaller samples.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: facial attractiveness,evolution,cross-cultural,aggression,sterotyping
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Science > School of Biological Sciences
Depositing User: Pure Connector
Date Deposited: 20 Jan 2015 13:26
Last Modified: 21 Apr 2020 23:47
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/51896
DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1409643111

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