Preferences across the menstrual cycle for masculinity and symmetry in photographs of male faces and bodies

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BackgroundPrevious studies have shown that women increase their preference for masculinity during the fertile phase of the menstrual cycle. Evidence for a similar preference shift for symmetry is equivocal. These studies have required participants to choose between subtle variations in computer-generated stimuli, and preferences for more natural stimuli have not been investigated.Methodology/Principal FindingsOur study employed photographs of individual males to investigate women's preferences for face and body masculinity and symmetry across the menstrual cycle. We collected attractiveness ratings from 25 normally cycling women at high- and low-fertility days of the menstrual cycle. Attractiveness ratings made by these women were correlated with independent ratings of masculinity and symmetry provided by different sets of raters. We found no evidence for any cyclic shift in female preferences. Correlations between attractiveness and masculinity, and attractiveness and symmetry did not differ significantly between high- and low-fertility test sessions. Furthermore, there was no significant difference between high- and low-fertility ratings of attractiveness.ConclusionsThese results suggest that a menstrual cycle shift in visual preferences for masculinity and symmetry may be too subtle to influence responses to real faces and bodies, and subsequent mate-choice decisions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)Article number e4138, 7pp
JournalPLoS One
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2009


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