Does early psychosocial stress affect mate choice?

Nicole Koehler, James Chisholm, Jane Lancaster (Editor), John Bock (Editor)

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    6 Citations (Scopus)


    Early psychosocial stress (e.g., parental divorce, abuse) is conjectured to place individuals on a developmental trajectory leading to earlier initiation of sexual activity, earlier reproduction, and having more sex partners than those with less early psychosocial stress. But does it also affect an individual’s mate choice? The present study examined whether early psychosocial stress affects preferences and dislikes for opposite-sex faces varying in masculinity/femininity, a putative indicator of mate quality, in premenopausal women (58 with a natural cycle, 53 pill-users) and 196 men. No significant three-way interactions were found when women selected the most or least preferred face with participant group (natural cycle, pill), conception risk (low, high), and early psychosocial stress (low, high) as between-subjects factors. Early psychosocial stress did not affect men’s face preferences when selecting the most preferred face. However, men with high early psychosocial stress disliked masculine faces significantly more so than men with low early psychosocial stress. Overall it was concluded that early psychosocial stress does not affect mate choice with the exception that men with high early psychosocial stress were more likely to dislike masculine female faces. It was suggested that men with high early psychosocial stress may dislike masculine female faces because they have nothing to gain from associating with women with such faces.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)52-66
    JournalHuman Nature
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2009

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