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Human Facial Attractiveness and Sexual Selection: The Roles of Averageness and Symmetry

Grammer, K. und Thornhill, R.


in: (1994) Human Facial Attractiveness and Sexual Selection: The Roles of Averageness and Symmetry. Journal of Comparative Psychology. 108/3 pp 233-242.

We hypothesized from the parasite theory of sexual selection that men (llomo sapiens) would prefer averageness and symmetry in women's faces, that women would prefer averageness and symmetry in men's faces, and that women would prefer largeness (not averageness) of the secondary sexual traits of men's faces. We generated computer images of men's and women's faces and of composites of the faces of each sex, and tnen had men and women rate opposite-sex faces for 4 variables (attractive, dominant, sexy, and healthy).


Symmetry, averageness, and the sizes of facial features were measured on the computerized faces. The hypotheses were supported, with the exception of the hypothesized effects of averageness male faces on attractiveness ratings. This is the first study to show that facial symmetry has a positive influence on facial attractiveness ratings.We use the theoretical framework of sexual selection. The prominent theory of sexual selection is the parasite theory, which proposes tbat sexual selection favors those traits that advertise resistance to parasites, both microparasites, such as bacteria and viruses, and macroparasites, such as nematades and protozoa.

There is considerable evidence that parasite-resistant organisms win in competition for mates, both in intrasexual competition (usually males competing for females) and in being chosen by the opposite sex and that secondary sexual traits advertise parasite resistance. According to the parasite theory of sexual selection, mate choice decisions include medical examinations of potential mates, and parasiteresistant organisms are preferred because they produce genetically resistant offspring or provide better parental care to the offspring. Thus, the parasite theory proposes that beauty of bodily form is perceived as a cne to high parasite resistance by animals in choosing mates.Picture shows the measuring technique used in this article.



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