The 87th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2018)

La donna è mobile? Lack of cyclical shifts in facial symmetry, and facial and body masculinity preferences – a hormone based study


Department of Environmental Health, Medical College Jagiellonian University

April 14, 2018 , Zilker 1/2/3 Add to calendar

Although under investigation for more than two decades, a common agreement on the occurrence of cyclical shifts in women’s masculinity and symmetry preferences is still missing. Such shifts are considered to be an important feature of sexual selection as they supposedly direct women’s attention towards cues for “good genes” (e.g. masculinity and symmetry) during times when probability of conception is the highest. Multiple studies have, however, failed to find these shifts. We attempt to address this lack of agreement analysing a sample of 110 healthy women, using intra-participant design and repeated measurements of oestradiol and LH during the cycle. To ensure the reliable detection of increased conception probability, both LH- based ovulation tests and multiple oestradiol measurements were used. We found no significant differences between women’s preferences during different cycle phases for either body or facial masculinity, or for facial symmetry. Differences remained non-significant after controlling for participants’ sexual openness, relationship status, and self-judged attractiveness. We suggest that putative cyclical shifts in preferences for cues for good genes are either very small (impossible to be tracked even with a relatively large sample) or they are far more complex than previously assumed, and further studies accounting for more confounding variables should be undertaken.

This work was supported by the Polish National Science Centre (grant number 2014/12/S/NZ8/00722)