February 07, 2006

The sex of attractive faces is identified more easily

Perception. 2005;34(12):1459-74.

The role of facial attractiveness and facial masculinity/femininity in sex classification of faces.

Hoss RA, Ramsey JL, Griffin AM, Langlois JH.

We tested whether adults (experiment 1) and 4 - 5-year-old children (experiment 2) identify the sex of highly attractive faces faster and more accurately than not very attractive faces in a reaction-time task. We also assessed whether facial masculinity/femininity facilitated identification of sex. Results showed that attractiveness facilitated adults' sex classification of both female and male faces and children's sex classification of female, but not male, faces. Moreover, attractiveness affected the speed and accuracy of sex classification independently of masculinity/femininity. High masculinity in male faces, but not high femininity in female faces, also facilitated sex classification for both adults and children. These findings provide important new data on how the facial cues of attractiveness and masculinity/femininity contribute to the task of sex classification and provide evidence for developmental differences in how adults and children use these cues. Additionally, these findings provide support for Langlois and Roggman's (1990 Psychological Science 1 115 121) averageness theory of attractiveness.


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