We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue.

Durham University

Research & business

View Profile

Publication details

Boothroyd, Lynda G, Lawson, Jamie F & Burt, D Michael (2009). Testing immuncompetence explanations of male facial masculinity. Journal of Evolutionary Psychology 7(1): 65-81.

Author(s) from Durham


Currently the Immunocompetence Hypothesis dominates research into female attraction
to male facial masculinity. Although studies have shown links between masculinity and possible
indicators of health such as fluctuating asymmetry, preferences for facial masculinity do not
co-vary with preferences for apparent health (BOOTHROYD et al. 2005). Here we build on that
work with two studies. Study 1 addresses the concern that apparent health may not fully reflect
long term immune function by investigating how masculinity preferences correlate with preferences
for other potential indicators of ‘good genes’: symmetry and averageness. Study 2 investigated
whether masculinity preferences were dependant upon the presence of other indicators of
‘good immunity’ in the face, by showing observers both symmetric and asymmetric masculinity
stimuli. Across three samples, women’s masculinity preferences were inversely correlated with
symmetry preferences, counter to prediction, and there were no consistent associations with apparent
health or averageness. Results of Study 2 suggested that masculinity preferences may be
enhanced in symmetric stimuli; however, these results appear to have been driven by a single
stimulus, suggesting that more research is needed into the potential importance of initial stimulus
properties when investigating masculinity preferences.