The role of masculinity and distinctiveness in judgments of human male facial attractiveness

Anthony C. Little, Peter J B Hancock

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154 Citations (SciVal)


Masculinity and distinctiveness have been found to influence the attractiveness of human male faces. The relationship between masculinity and distinctiveness, however, has received little attention. In Expt 1, we examine how current averaging techniques and manipulated sexual dimorphism influence ratings of attractiveness, masculinity, and distinctiveness. In agreement with previous studies, composite faces were found to be more attractive than individual faces. Averaging resulted in increased ratings of attractiveness but decreased ratings of masculinity and distinctiveness. This supports both that attractiveness is related to averageness and findings showing a preference for feminine traits in male faces. When controlling for attractiveness, no significant relationship was found between masculinity and distinctiveness. Manipulating sexual dimorphism did not alter distinctiveness ratings, indicating that feminized and masculinized faces are equally distinctive. These results are suggestive that masculinity and distinctiveness are separable components in face perception. In Expt 2, we look to improve on previous studies utilizing composite faces by examining how averaging in texture-only or shape-only changes perceptions of attractiveness, masculinity, and distinctiveness. Averaging in both shape and texture were found to increase attractiveness independently, showing that the increased attractiveness of composites is due to the combined action of these two manipulations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)451-464
Number of pages14
JournalBritish Journal of Psychology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • General Psychology


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