In the study, 854 male and female subjects viewed a series of male head shots that had been digitally altered to exaggerate or minimize masculine traits. The participants then answered questions about how they expected the men in the photos to behave.
Overwhelmingly, participants said those with more masculine features were likely to be risky and competitive and also more apt to fight, challenge bosses, cheat on spouses and put less effort into parenting. Those with more feminine faces were seen as good parents and husbands, hard workers and emotionally supportive mates [compare examples].
Despite all the negative attributes, when asked who they would choose for a short-term relationship, women still selected the more masculine looking men. Brad and George then would be picks for a brief romance, if not the long haul.
Volume 13 Issue 4 Page 451 - December 2006
Male facial masculinity influences attributions of personality and reproductive strategy
DANIEL J. KRUGER
Facial masculinity may be used as a cue in female mate choice, as it reflects the success of the male genotype in its developmental environment. Women may maximize reproductive success by using a conditional strategy favoring highly masculine facial features for short-term relationships and feminized facial features in men for long-term relationships. Three studies examine reactions to masculinized and feminized male facial composites. Properties of the original composite image affect ratings of critical attributes and the magnitude of the differences in ratings between versions undergoing identical processes of geometric manipulation (Study 1). Both men and women attribute personality, behavior, and mating strategies consistent with predictions derived from the good genes and mating trade-off hypotheses (Study 2). Participants accurately grouped behavioral tendencies related to high mating effort/risky strategies and high parenting effort/risk adverse strategies and associated mating effort more so with masculinized faces and parenting effort more so with feminized faces (Study 3). These results indicate that male facial masculinity serves as a visual cue for inferring personality and reproductive strategy.