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DEPARTMENT OF ANTHROPOLOGY- HUMAN BEHAVIOR RESEARCH | face and body

 

Cues to fertility: perceived attractiveness and facial shape predict reproductive success

Pflueger, L.S., Oberzaucher, Katina, S., Holzleitner, I.J., Grammer, K.

 

Attractive facial features in women are assumed to signal fertility, but whether facial attractiveness predicts reproductive success in women is still a matter of debate. We investigated the association between facial attractiveness at young adulthood and reproductive life history—number of children and pregnancies—in women of a rural community. For the analysis of reproductive success, we divided the sample into women who used contraceptives and women who did not. Introducing two-dimensional geometric morphometric methodology, we analysed which specific characteristics in facial shape drive the assessment of attractiveness and covary with lifetime reproductive success. A set of 93 (semi)landmarks was digitized as two-dimensional coordinates in postmenopausal faces. We calculated the degree of fluctuating asymmetry and regressed facial shape on facial attractiveness at youth and reproductive success. Among women who never used hormonal contraceptives, we found attractive women to have more biological offspring than less attractive women. These findings are not affected by sociodemographic variables. Postmenopausal faces corresponding to high reproductive success show more feminine features—facial characteristics previously assumed to be honest cues to fertility. Our findings support the notion that facial attractiveness at the age of mate choice predicts reproductive success and that facial attractiveness is based on facial characteristics, which seem to remain stable until postmenopausal age.

 

 

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Pflueger, L.S., Oberzaucher, Katina, S., Holzleitner, I.J., Grammer, K. (2012). Cues to fertility: perceived attractiveness and facial shape predict reproductive success. Evolution and Human Behavior, 33:708-714.

 

Shape regression of women who never used HCs visualized by TPS deformation grids (N= 33). Top: facial shape and (perceived) attractiveness at youth (mean R2=.178, min R2=.011, max R2=.456). Middle: facial shape and number of children (mean R2=.236, min R2=.029, max R2=.463). Bottom: facial shape and number of pregnancies (mean R2=.242, min R2=.035, max R2=.459). Middle panels of each row correspond to the Procrustes mean shape (no deformation of the grid). Panels on the left correspond to a low (minimal) value of independent variable. Panels on the right correspond to a high (maximal) value of the independent variable. To ease the visualization, TPS grids were extrapolated 1.2 times in negative and positive direction of each independent variable.

 

 

gmm

UNIVERSITY OF VIENNA

all rights reserved karl.grammer@univie.ac.at