Head-tilt and fertility contribute to different aspects of female facial attractiveness



Sulikowski D, Burke D, Havlicek J & Roberts SC (2015) Head-tilt and fertility contribute to different aspects of female facial attractiveness. Ethology, 121 (10), pp. 1002-1009.

Subjective attractiveness ratings of facial portraits of women taken at the fertile phase of the menstrual cycle are higher than those of portraits of the same women taken during non-fertile periods. As female faces tilted downward are rated as more attractive and female courtship behaviours change across the menstrual cycle, we investigated whether systematic downward tilt of women's faces during the fertile phase might be responsible for increased attractiveness ratings. In the original study (Proc. R. Soc. Lond. B, 271, 2004, S272), the fertile-phase portrait of each woman was deemed more attractive in 56–62% of cases. When the portraits were reclassified by head pitch, the more downward-tilted portrait was preferred in 64–73% of cases. The fertile-phase portrait was no more likely to be the downward-tilted one, however, suggesting that effects of fertility on attractiveness are not simply due to changes in head position. We also had these portraits rated (N=130) for physical attractiveness and behavioural allure. Fertile-phase portraits were rated as more physically attractive than non-fertile portraits, while more downward-tilted portraits were rated as more behaviourally alluring than less downward-tilted ones. These data not only confirm reported effects of head tilt and fertility on perceived female attractiveness, but also suggest that these factors influence different components of the attractiveness percept.

face attractiveness; head tilt; menstrual cycle; fertility

Ethology: Volume 121, Issue 10

FundersThe British Academy
Publication date31/10/2015
Publication date online07/08/2015
Date accepted by journal18/06/2015

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Professor Craig Roberts

Professor Craig Roberts

Professor of Social Psychology, Psychology

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