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Women’s facial features can determine length of relationship

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Women’s facial features can determine length of relationship
Men prefer women with feminine faces for short-term relationships

Men in relationships prefer women with more feminine faces for a fling.

This is one of the findings of Dr Anthony Little from the University of Stirling and Benedict Jones from the University of Glasgow that will be published in the British Journal of Psychology today, Friday 21 June.

The study investigated whether considering partners for long-term or short-term relationships would affect men's preference for different women’s faces.

One of the experiments was conducted online with 393 heterosexual men. From this group 207 stated they had a current partner. Participants were shown 10 paired images of pictures of women and in each pair of composite images one had been further transformed to possess masculine traits and the other feminine traits.

The men were asked to rate which of each pair they found most attractive indicating the most attractive for short term relationships and long term relationships.

The results showed that men in relationships were more likely to find women with feminine faces most attractive when they were looking for a short-term relationship.

Stirling’s Dr Little explained: “It’s interesting that these findings are comparable to previous research that indicates women’s preference for masculine male faces are higher if they were judging for short-term relationships.

“Our findings point to a similar preference in men. When they already have a partner, men find more feminine women more attractive for short-term relationships.

“There are several possible explanations; perhaps some men are inclined to take a long-term partner whilst still attempting to cheat with other, more feminine women. Or maybe once a long-term partner is secured, the potential cost of being discovered may increase a man’s choosiness regarding short-term partners relative to unpartnered men.”

He added: “In another part of the study we showed that men who think themselves attractive have stronger preferences for femininity than those who think themselves less attractive.

“Again, this effect appears similar to an effect seen in women, whereby attractive women are choosier in their preferences for men. Across the two studies attractive men were found to be more discriminating in their preferences for a woman’s facial femininity.”


  • Full journal title is ‘Men’s strategic preferences for femininity in female faces’. Authors: Anthony Little, University of Stirling; Benedict Jones, University of Glasgow; David Feinberg, McMaster University and David Perrett, University of At Andrews.
  • Dr Anthony Little runs an online research laboratory that contains his studies. Click here to find out more
  • About the British Journal of Psychology
    The British Journal of Psychology is the flagship journal of the Society with a successful publishing history spanning over 100 years and is renowned worldwide for its comprehensive approach to all areas of the psychology discipline. The British Journal of Psychology publishes original research on all aspects of general psychology including cognition; health and clinical psychology; developmental, social and occupational psychology. Visit for more information.

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