Women's pathogen disgust predicting preference for facial masculinity may be specific to age and study design

Lee, Anthony J. and Zietsch, Brendan P. (2014) Women's pathogen disgust predicting preference for facial masculinity may be specific to age and study design. Evolution and Human Behavior, 36 4: 249-255. doi:10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2014.12.001

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Author Lee, Anthony J.
Zietsch, Brendan P.
Title Women's pathogen disgust predicting preference for facial masculinity may be specific to age and study design
Journal name Evolution and Human Behavior   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1090-5138
Publication date 2014-12-09
Year available 2014
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2014.12.001
Open Access Status File (Author Post-print)
Volume 36
Issue 4
Start page 249
End page 255
Total pages 7
Place of publication New York, NY, United States
Publisher Elsevier
Collection year 2015
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Facial masculinity in men is thought to be an indicator of good health. Consistent with this idea, previous research has found a positive association between pathogen avoidance (disgust sensitivity) and preference for facial masculinity. However, previous studies are mostly based on young adult participants and targets, using forced-choice preference measures; this begs the question whether the findings generalise to other adult age groups or other preference measures. We address this by conducting three studies assessing facial masculinity preferences of a wider age range of women for a wider age range of male faces. In studies 1 and 2, 447 and 433 women respectively made forced choices between two identical faces that were manipulated on masculinity/femininity. In study 1, face stimuli were manipulated on sexual dimorphism using age-matched templates, while in study 2 young face stimuli were manipulated with older templates and older face stimuli were manipulated using young templates. In the full sample for study 1, no association was found between women's pathogen disgust and masculinity preference, but when limiting the sample to younger women rating younger faces we replicated previous findings of significant association between pathogen disgust and preference for facial masculinity. Results for study 2 found no effect of pathogen disgust sensitivity on facial masculinity preferences regardless of participant and stimuli age. In study 3, the facial masculinity preferences of 386 women were revealed through their attractiveness ratings of natural (unmanipulated) faces. Here, we did not find a significant association of pathogen disgust on facial masculinity preferences, regardless of participant and stimuli age. These results call into question the robustness of the link between women's pathogen avoidance and facial masculinity preference, and raise questions as to why the effect is specific to younger adults and the forced-choice preference measure.
Keyword Sexual dimorphism
Immunocompetence
Mate preferences
Pathogen avoidance
Good genes
Forced-choice
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ
Additional Notes Published online ahead of print 9 December 2014

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2015 Collection
School of Psychology Publications
 
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Created: Thu, 26 Mar 2015, 14:47:01 EST by Mrs Alison Pike on behalf of School of Psychology