Waist-hip ratio predicts women's preferences for masculine male faces, but not perceptions of men's trustworthiness

Finlay G. Smith, Benedict C. Jones, Lisa L W Welling, Anthony C. Little, Jovana Vukovic, Julie C. Main, Lisa M. DeBruine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Citations (SciVal)


Studies show that attractive women demonstrate stronger preferences for masculine men than relatively unattractive women do. Such condition-dependent preferences may occur because attractive women can more easily offset the costs associated with choosing a masculine partner, such as lack of commitment and less interest in parenting. Alternatively, if masculine men display negative characteristics less to attractive women than to unattractive women, attractive women may perceive masculine men to have more positive personality traits than relatively unattractive women do. We examined how two indices of women's attractiveness, body mass index (BMI) and waist-hip ratio (WHR), relate to perceptions of both the attractiveness and trustworthiness of masculinized versus feminized male faces. Consistent with previous studies, women with a low (attractive) WHR had stronger preferences for masculine male faces than did women with a relatively high (unattractive) WHR. This relationship remained significant when controlling for possible effects of BMI. Neither WHR nor BMI predicted perceptions of trustworthiness. These findings present converging evidence for condition-dependent mate preferences in women and suggest that such preferences do not reflect individual differences in the extent to which pro-social traits are ascribed to feminine versus masculine men.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)476-480
Number of pages5
JournalPersonality and Individual Differences
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2009


  • Attractiveness
  • Body mass index
  • Condition-dependent preferences
  • Faces
  • Masculinity
  • Trustworthiness
  • Waist-hip ratio

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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