Sexual selection has shaped women’s preferences for ideal physical features in men that signal good health. Facial masculinity is often used as a proxy in signaling health, viability, and disease resistance, and it is thought to be attractive because it advertises heritable benefits. Preferences for facial masculinity are also associated with individual differences in one’s sociosexuality and mate value, where women oriented toward a short-term mating orientation and are of high mate value may prefer men with masculine features. The current study examined women’s sociosexuality and mate value (i.e., self-rating of overall desirability) in rating attractiveness and visual attention to facial masculinity in men’s faces using an eye-tracking task. Overall, women (N = 72) did not show any significant preferences for men with masculinized over feminized faces. However, women who scored high on sociosexuality (i.e., unrestricted sociosexuality) and mate value demonstrated increased visual attention and looking frequency to masculinized over feminized faces. The study highlights the unique role of cognitive mechanisms in visually assessing a potential mate and how individual differences in short-term mating strategies and mate value may moderate those preferences. These findings underscore the importance of examining individual differences in mate preferences research.
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Garza, R., Byrd-Craven, J. Women’s Mating Strategies and Mate Value Are Associated with Viewing Time to Facial Masculinity. Arch Sex Behav 52, 2143–2151 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-023-02621-7