Recent studies, published in Personality and Individual Differences, asked over 400 British men and women to judge digitally altered pictures of male faces made to look more masculine or feminine.
The participants were asked to predict personality traits including sexual behaviour and parenting skills based on what they saw.
The findings reported that women see ‘masculine’ men as unsuitable long-term partners.
Conversely, men with feminine facial features are seen as more committed and less likely to cheat on their partners.
Men with masculine faces, with features such as a square jaw, larger nose and smaller eyes, were classed as significantly more dominant, less faithful, worse parents and as having personalities that were less warm, compared to their ‘feminine’ counterparts, who had finer facial features with fuller lips, wide eyes and thinner, more curved eyebrows.
The scientists say the research backs up earlier research about masculinity and perceptions of personality and gives further insight into what people see in others when choosing potential partners.
The survey also found that faces which appeared healthier, for instance those with better complexion, were seen as more desirable in terms of all personality traits compared to those who looked unhealthy. Similarly, older faces were generally viewed more positively compared to younger ones.
Professor David Perrett from St Andrews University adds: “Our research also found that it is men’s health that conveys all round good qualities for partnership and personality. Our results contradict claims that machismo denotes fitness and disease immunity. Masculinity may buy you dominance but not necessarily tip top physical condition. Instead women see a healthy guy as the source of wealth, and fit for family life.”
The research in this topic continues through web sites and the public can both take part in experiments and find more information about ongoing research at: www.boothlab.org; www.Perceptionlab.com; http://www.faceresearch.org/