Sex-Dimorphic Face Shape Preference in Heterosexual and Homosexual Men and Women

Abstract

Studies have used manipulated faces to test the preferences of heterosexual individuals for sexually dimorphic facial cues. In contrast to previous studies, which have generally excluded homosexual participants, we directly compared homosexual and heterosexual male and female preferences for manipulated sexual dimorphism in faces (homosexual males: n = 311; heterosexual males: n = 215; homosexual females: n = 159; heterosexual females: n = 218). Prior studies on sexual orientation and preferences for faces that were paired with masculine and feminine behavioral descriptors suggest that homosexual men prefer more masculine men and that homosexual women demonstrate no preference for either masculinity or femininity in women. In our study, we tested for similarities and differences among heterosexual and homosexual males and females with regard to their preferences for a more specific aspect of faces: sexual dimorphism of face shape. Homosexual men demonstrated stronger preferences for masculinity in male faces than did all of the other groups. Homosexual women demonstrated stronger preferences for masculinity in female faces than did heterosexual women. These results suggest attractiveness judgments of same-sex faces made by homosexual individuals are not a mirror image of those made by heterosexual individuals of the opposite sex. Our data suggest that face preferences of homosexual individuals reflect a system of biologically and socially guided preferences at least as complex as those found among heterosexual individuals.

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Acknowledgments

David R. Feinberg is supported by Canada Foundation for Innovation, The Ministry of Research and Innovation of Ontario: Project # 17515, and The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada: Grant #410-2009-2924. Anthony Little is supported by a Royal Society University Research Fellowship.

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Correspondence to David R. Feinberg.

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Glassenberg, A.N., Feinberg, D.R., Jones, B.C. et al. Sex-Dimorphic Face Shape Preference in Heterosexual and Homosexual Men and Women. Arch Sex Behav 39, 1289–1296 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-009-9559-6

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Keywords

  • Face
  • Attractiveness
  • Homosexual
  • Heterosexual
  • Masculinity
  • Femininity
  • Sociosexual Orientation Inventory