The varying value of a friendly face: Experimentally induced stress is associated with higher preferences for friendship with people possessing feminine versus masculine face traits

Anthony C. Little, Kerry Harcus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)


Social support can provide a buffer to the negative consequences of stress. Previous research suggests that stress can promote affiliative and cooperative behaviours in those who are stressed. Here we examined how stress might influence who we choose to affiliate with. We measured preferences for friendships with friendly appearing feminized faces versus less friendly appearing masculinized faces after individuals undertook a stressful laboratory task. Stressed individuals had increased preferences for friendships with people with feminine faces. These data demonstrate that individuals prefer more friendly appearing feminine faced people as friends when stressed than when not stressed. This preference is likely adaptive in directing individuals towards others who are most likely to provide social support when it is needed and so reflect strategic friendship preferences.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1498-1507
Number of pages10
JournalQuarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2 Aug 2016



  • Femininity
  • Friendship
  • Masculinity
  • Social support
  • Stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Psychology(all)
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology

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