Facial scarring enhances men's attractiveness for short-term relationships

Robert P. Burriss, Hannah M. Rowland, Anthony C. Little

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (SciVal)


It is widely thought in Western societies that facial scarring has a negative impact on attractiveness. However, the specific effects of non-severe facial posttraumatic scarring on third party perceptions of attractiveness are currently unknown. Here we show that non-severe facial scarring can enhance perceptions of attractiveness in men but not in women. We report the results of asking 147 female and 76 male participants to rate the attractiveness of unscarred opposite-sex faces and faces that had been manipulated to exhibit photorealistic scarring, demonstrating that scarring enhances women's ratings of male attractiveness for short-term, but not long-term, relationships. Men's ratings of female attractiveness were unaffected by scarring. Though the reported effect is small, our results suggest that under certain circumstances scars may advertise valued information about their bearers, and that the idea that scarring universally devalues social perceptions can no longer be assumed to be true.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)213-217
Number of pages5
JournalPersonality and Individual Differences
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2009


  • Disfigurement
  • Facial attractiveness
  • Long-term/short-term
  • Mate-choice
  • Scarring

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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