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Unformatted text preview: Facial appearance is a cue to oestrogen levels in women M. J. Law Smith 1, * , D. I. Perrett 1 , B. C. Jones 1,† , R. E. Cornwell 1 , F. R. Moore 1 , D. R. Feinberg 1 , L. G. Boothroyd 1,‡ , S. J. Durrani 1,¶ , M. R. Stirrat 1 , S. Whiten 2 , R. M. Pitman 2 and S. G. Hillier 3 1 School of Psychology, University of St Andrews, St Andrews, Fife KY16 9JP, UK 2 School of Medicine, University of St Andrews, St Andrews, Fife KY16 9TS, UK 3 Centre for Reproductive Biology, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh EH16 4SB, UK Although many accounts of facial attractiveness propose that femininity in women’s faces indicates high levels of oestrogen, there is little empirical evidence in support of this assumption. Here, we used assays for urinary metabolites of oestrogen (oestrone-3-glucuronide, E1G) and progesterone (pregnanediol-3- glucuronide, P3G) to investigate the relationship between circulating gonadal hormones and ratings of the femininity, attractiveness and apparent health of women’s faces. Positive correlations were observed between late follicular oestrogen and ratings of femininity, attractiveness and health. Positive correlations of luteal progesterone and health and attractiveness ratings were marginally significant. Ratings of facial attributions did not relate to hormone levels for women wearing make-up when photographed. There was no effect of sex of rater on the relationships between oestrogen and ratings of facial appearance. These findings demonstrate that female facial appearance holds detectable cues to reproductive health that are considered attractive by other people. Keywords: facial attractiveness; sexual dimorphism; oestrogen; progesterone 1. INTRODUCTION An evolutionary approach to facial attractiveness proposes that male preferences for feminine female faces ( Perrett et al . 1994 , 1998 ; Jones 1995 ; Rhodes et al . 2000 ) reflect an adaptation to identifying healthy and fertile mates ( Thornhill & Gangestad 1999 ). Although there have been attempts to demonstrate that facial appearance in females signals some measure of underlying health, results of such studies have been equivocal. Kalick et al . (1998) conducted the most comprehensive study using lifetime health records and adolescent photographs for a large group of participants ( n Z 333). They found adolescent facial attractiveness was unrelated to health (as indexed by annual health scores based on detailed medical histories during adolescence) at any stage of life for both males and females. Perceived health rated from the photographs was, however, weakly associated with medical health, and attractiveness was positively associated with perceived health. Using the same images and methods, Rhodes et al . (2003) found no correlation between rated facial femininity of adolescent photographs and medical health in females, although ratings of males’ facial masculinity were positively associated with medical health. Again using the same images, ratings of facial averageness (a putative cue to a heterozygous genetic...
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- Spring '11
- The Land, progesterone, facial appearance, Facial Attractiveness, oestrogen levels