Correlated preferences for facial masculinity and ideal or actual partner's masculinity
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Studies of women's preferences for male faces have variously reported preferences for masculine faces, preferences for feminine faces and no effect of masculinity-femininity on male facial attractiveness. It has been suggested that these apparently inconsistent findings are, at least partly, due to differences in the methods used to manipulate the masculinity of face images or individual differences in attraction to facial cues associated with youth. Here, however, we show that women's preferences for masculinity manipulated in male faces using techniques similar to the three most widely used methods are positively inter-related. We also show that women's preferences for masculine male faces are positively related to ratings of the masculinity of their actual partner and their ideal partner. Correlations with partner masculinity were independent of real and ideal partner age, which were not associated with facial masculinity preference. Collectively, these findings suggest that variability among studies in their findings for women's masculinity preferences reflects individual differences in attraction to masculinity rather than differences in the methods used to manufacture stimuli, and are important for the interpretation of previous and future studies of facial masculinity.
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