Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 66, Issue 3, pp 413–418 | Cite as

Women’s self-perceived health and attractiveness predict their male vocal masculinity preferences in different directions across short- and long-term relationship contexts

  • D. R. Feinberg
  • L. M. DeBruine
  • B. C. Jones
  • A. C. Little
  • J. J. M. O’Connor
  • C. C. Tigue
Original Paper


Research has revealed that women’s self-perceived attractiveness positively predicts preferences for male facial and vocal masculinity, particularly in the context of long-term relationships. Other research has demonstrated that women who perceive themselves to be less healthy prefer male masculinity more than do women who may be healthier. As self-perceived health may predict self-perceived attractiveness, previous findings may appear to be contradictory. Therefore, we compared the effects of self-perceived attractiveness and self-perceived health on vocal masculinity preferences in long- and short-term relationship contexts. We found that although self-perceived health and attractiveness were positively correlated, self-rated attractiveness positively predicted long-term vocal masculinity preferences, whereas self-rated health negatively predicted short-term vocal masculinity preferences. While health and attractiveness may share a common basis, here we show independent potentially adaptive relationships with preferences based on relationship context. Such preferences are potentially adaptive as (a) masculine men may pass on inheritable immunity to infection to their offspring, which may be a relatively greater benefit for women in poor health; and (b) masculine men may be more likely to invest in relationships and offspring of relatively attractive women, decreasing the cost of choosing a masculine long-term partner for attractive women. These data resolve a potential conflict between health and attractiveness influences on the attractiveness of masculinity and highlight sophisticated individual differences in preferences.


Attractiveness Voice Face Condition Individual difference Mate choice 



This research was funded by grants awarded to David R. Feinberg by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, Canada Foundation for Innovation, and The Ministry of Research and Innovation of Ontario. All protocols for this study were approved and conducted in accordance with the McMaster Research Ethics Board. The authors declare no conflicts of interest with funding bodies.


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Copyright information

© © Her Majesty the Queen in Right of UK 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. R. Feinberg
    • 1
  • L. M. DeBruine
    • 2
  • B. C. Jones
    • 2
  • A. C. Little
    • 3
  • J. J. M. O’Connor
    • 1
  • C. C. Tigue
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Psychology, Neuroscience and BehaviourMcMaster UniversityHamiltonCanada
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of AberdeenAberdeenUK
  3. 3.School of Natural SciencesStirling UniversityStirlingUK

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