Preferences for symmetry in faces change across the menstrual cycle

Anthony C. Little, Benedict C. Jones, D. Michael Burt, David I. Perrett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

84 Citations (SciVal)


Symmetry in human male faces may be a cue to heritable fitness benefits and is found attractive. Preferences for facial masculinity, another proposed marker of genetic quality, have been found to vary in ways that may maximise evolutionary relevant benefits and masculinity is found to be of increased attractiveness at peak fertility across the menstrual cycle. Here we show that women prefer more symmetric faces at peak fertility (Study 1) and that such shifting preferences may be potentially strategic preferences as we found them to occur only for judgements concerning short-term relations and when women already had a partner (Study 2). Such preferences potentially indicate a strategy that maximises the quality of extra-pair/short-term partners or a quality dependent response to hormones. Such strategic preferences for symmetry may support the role of symmetry in signalling potential good-gene benefits.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)209-216
Number of pages8
JournalBiological Psychology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2007


  • Facial attractiveness
  • Hormones
  • Mate choice
  • Menstrual cycle
  • Preferences
  • Symmetry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology


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