Do prevailing environmental factors influence human preferences for facial morphology?

Dixson, Barnaby J. W., Little, Anthony C., Dixson, Henry G. W. and Brooks, Robert C. (2017) Do prevailing environmental factors influence human preferences for facial morphology?. Behavioral Ecology, 28 5: 1217-1227. doi:10.1093/beheco/arx067

Author Dixson, Barnaby J. W.
Little, Anthony C.
Dixson, Henry G. W.
Brooks, Robert C.
Title Do prevailing environmental factors influence human preferences for facial morphology?
Journal name Behavioral Ecology   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1045-2249
Publication date 2017-09-01
Year available 2017
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1093/beheco/arx067
Open Access Status Not yet assessed
Volume 28
Issue 5
Start page 1217
End page 1227
Total pages 11
Place of publication Cary, NC United States
Publisher Oxford University Press
Language eng
Subject 1105 Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
1103 Animal Science and Zoology
Abstract Prevailing environmental factors influence preferences for attractive traits across many species. In humans, debate surrounds the role of environmental pathogens and economic development in determining facial attractiveness. We tested whether women and men's preferences for facial dimorphism, symmetry, skin tone, and adiposity differ among Melanesian participants from 3 islands (Espiritu Santo, Efate, and Tanna) in Vanuatu in the South West Pacific. These islands vary in their historical malarial pathogens respectively from pronounced to almost absent and are characterized by within and between island differences in economic development, ranging from urbanized market-based economies to remote rural horticultural communities. We found no support for the hypothesis that masculine male faces or feminine female faces are more attractive in environments with higher exposure to malarial pathogens or urban development. However, preferences for facial symmetry were highest in islands with higher malarial rates, possibly as symmetry indicates health and guides mate selection in disease rich environments. However, past evidence linking symmetry and health is weak, and we therefore interpret our findings cautiously. Women from peri-urban communities preferred male faces with lighter skin to rural and urban participants. Men from urban areas stated higher preferences for symmetry than peri-urban and rural male participants. All other effects were not statistically significant. While cross-cultural studies comparing preferences between disparate cultures provide evidence of associations between environmental effects and preferences for some facial traits, our results suggest these associations might not always persist at more fine-grain scales within small-scale societies.
Keyword Predicts Womens Preferences
Sexual Attractiveness
Mate Preferences
Fluctuating Asymmetry
Mens Preferences
Human Physique
Hip Ratio
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: HERDC Pre-Audit
School of Psychology Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 1 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 3 times in Scopus Article | Citations
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Created: Sun, 05 Nov 2017, 09:17:40 EST