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C., et al., Partnership status and the temporal context of relationships influence human female preferences for sexual dimorphism in male face shape.
Camm, The influence of women's mating strategies on preference for masculine facial architecture.
What we have shown is the relative importance of genetic variation in influencing our romantic preferences, and more generally, highly complex traits.
It remains unknown whether these preferences actually push us toward partners who carry these traits.
One possibility that had been neglected until recently is that female facial preferences are actually shaped by genetic influences.
A number of studies have identified genetic influences that can account for as much as 50 percent of the variation in an individual’s desire for certain characteristics in potential mates [20, 21].
This is thought to reflect an evolutionary trade-off: Sexy, lumberjack types, with heavy-set features, are often thought to be genetically superior, as their larger facial features are a byproduct of testosterone.
Far from being good for you, though, testosterone actually hampers the immune system—as a result, it can be considered a handicap.
testosterone-dependent facial features) can be a signal of underlying quality that only healthy individuals are capable of producing. Gangestad, Facial sexual dimorphism, developmental stability, and susceptibility to disease in men and women.
Taken together, these studies seem to suggest that women prefer more masculine men when genetic benefits are likely, and, conversely, prefer more feminine male faces when the genetic benefits are unlikely or when less aggressive, more stable partners would be more beneficial. For instance, two competing meta-analyses (large-scale statistical reviews of the results of previous studies) found conflicting support for the idea that women’s menstrual cycles influence facial preferences at all [17, 18]. De Bruine, Facial attractiveness: evolutionary based research.
Additionally, some studies have failed to find any association with preferences for healthy faces and preferences for "masculine" faces [1, 19], which undermine the idea that females select male faces based primarily on perceptions of health. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B-Biological Sciences, 2011.
In a recent study published in , my colleagues and I investigated whether such genetic influences might underlie female preferences for masculine faces.
By measuring these influences, we would also be able to compare their magnitude against the impact of the context-dependent factors suggested by the good-genes hypothesis, such as ovulatory cycle and pathogen sensitivity.
This might sound counterintuitive but there is some evidence to suggest that high-testosterone males may have better health than others.