Article

Mating strategies and the masculinity paradox: How relationship context, relationship status, and sociosexuality shape women's preferences for facial masculinity and beardedness

Citation

Stower RE, Lee AJ, McIntosh TL, Sidari MJ, Sherlock JM & Dixson BJW (2020) Mating strategies and the masculinity paradox: How relationship context, relationship status, and sociosexuality shape women's preferences for facial masculinity and beardedness. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 49, p. 809–820. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-019-1437-2

Abstract
According to the dual mating strategy model, in short-term mating contexts women should forego paternal investment qualities in favor of mates with well-developed secondary sexual characteristics and dominant behavioral displays. We tested whether this model explains variation in women’s preferences for facial masculinity and beardedness in male faces. Computer-generated composites that had been morphed to appear +/-50% masculine were rated by 671 heterosexual women (M age = 31.72 years, SD = 6.43) for attractiveness when considering them as a short-term partner, long-term partner, a co-parent or a friend. They then completed the Revised Sociosexual Inventory (SOI-R) to determine their sexual openness on dimensions of desire, behavior, and attitudes. Results showed that women’s preferences were strongest for average facial masculinity, followed by masculinized faces, with feminized faces being least attractive. In contrast to past research, facial masculinity preferences were stronger when judging for co-parenting partners than for short-term mates. Facial masculinity preferences were also positively associated with behavioral SOI, negatively with desire, and were unrelated to global or attitudinal SOI. Women gave higher ratings for full beards than clean-shaven faces. Preferences for beards were higher for co-parenting and long-term relationships than short-term relationships, although these differences were not statistically significant. Preferences for facial hair were positively associated with global and attitudinal SOI, but were unrelated to behavioral SOI and desire. Although further replication is necessary, our findings indicate that sexual openness is associated with women’s preferences for men’s facial hair and suggest variation in the association between sociosexuality and women’s facial masculinity preferences.

Keywords
Facial attractiveness; Masculinity; Facial hair; Sociosexuality

Journal
Archives of Sexual Behavior: Volume 49

StatusPublished
Publication date30/04/2020
Publication date online23/04/2019
Date accepted by journal03/03/2019
URLhttp://hdl.handle.net/1893/28877
ISSN0004-0002