Self-perceived attractiveness influences human female preferences for sexual dimorphism and symmetry in male faces

A. C. Little, D. M. Burt, I. S. Penton-Voak, D. I. Perrett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

253 Citations (Scopus)


Exaggerated sexual dimorphism and symmetry in human faces have both been linked to potential 'good-gene' benefits and have also been found to influence the attractiveness of male faces. The current study explores how female self-rated attractiveness influences male face preference in females using faces manipulated with computer graphics. The study demonstrates that there is a relatively increased preference for masculinity and an increased preference for symmetry for women who regard themselves as attractive. This finding may reflect a condition-dependent mating strategy analogous to behaviours found in other species. The absence of a preference for proposed markers of good genes may be adaptive in women of low mate value to avoid the costs of decreased parental investment from the owners of such characteristics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-44
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1462
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jan 2001



  • Facial attractiveness
  • Female preference
  • Good-gene markers
  • Mate value

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

Cite this