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Preferences for Symmetry in Conspecific Facial Shape Among Macaca mulatta

In human males and females, bilateral symmetry of facial shape influences assessments of attractiveness. It is possible, however, that other primate species also possess preferences for conspecific facial symmetry. To assess this experimentally, we presented 13 adult rhesus macaques (8 females, 5 males) with computer-manipulated images of symmetrical and asymmetrical versions of opposite-sexed conspecific faces. We utilized looking behavior to assess visual preferences for these factors. We found significant preferences for symmetry, raising the possibility that human preferences for facial symmetry are more deeply rooted in our evolutionary history than previously realized. Our results also have implications for the use of facial shape as a mechanism for attractiveness appraisals across the Primates.

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

The Leakey Foundation and the Department of Psychology, University of Stirling supported our study. NIH, NCRR grant CM-5-P40RR003640-13 and grants from the UPR School of Medicine supported Cayo Santiago. We would like to thank the following individuals: Paul Honess and Sarah Wolfhensohn of Veterinary Services, University of Oxford and Peter Pearce of Biomedical Services, DSTL for granting access to study animals; Peter Hancock for providing his technical expertise; David I. Perrett, Robin Dunbar, and Hannah M. Buchanan-Smith for offering their helpful advice. We extend special thanks to Sarah Fairhall and Tony Brown for all their creative input and assistance

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Waitt, C., Little, A.C. Preferences for Symmetry in Conspecific Facial Shape Among Macaca mulatta . Int J Primatol 27, 133–145 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10764-005-9015-y

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KEY WORDS

  • faces
  • Macaca mulatta
  • primate mate choice
  • sexual selection
  • symmetry