Facial attractiveness and preference of sexual dimorphism: A comparison across five populations


Despite intensive research, evolutionary psychology has not yet reached a consensus regarding the association between sexual dimorphism and attractiveness. This study examines associations between perceived and morphological facial sexual dimorphism and perceived attractiveness in samples from five distant countries (Cameroon, Colombia, Czechia, Iran, and Turkey). We also examined possible moderating effects of skin lightness, averageness, age, body mass, and facial width. Our results suggest that in all samples, women’s perceived femininity was positively related to their perceived attractiveness. Women found perceived masculinity in men attractive only in Czechia and Colombia, two distant populations. The association between perceived sexual dimorphism and attractiveness is thus potentially universal only for women. Across populations, morphological sexual dimorphism and averageness are not universally associated with either perceived facial sexual dimorphism or attractiveness. With our exploratory approach, results highlight the need for control of which measure of sexual dimorphism is used (perceived or measured) because they affect perceived attractiveness differently. Morphological averageness and sexual dimorphism are not good predictors of perceived attractiveness. It is noted that future studies should use more population samples to allow for identification of specific effects of local environmental and socioeconomic conditions on preferred traits in unmanipulated local facial stimuli.

Evolutionary Human Sciences, 3, e38
Juan David Leongómez
Juan David Leongómez
Associate Professor

My research interests include mate choice and human vocal communication, with an aspiration towards understanding musicality. I am also interested in bioacoustics and psychoacoustics, as well as statistics and  programming.

Karel Kleisner
Karel Kleisner
Deputy Head of Department

Deputy Head of Department (Department of Philosophy and History of Science, Charles University in Prague, Prague, Czech Republic).