Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science

Living Edition
| Editors: Todd K. Shackelford, Viviana A. Weekes-Shackelford

Facial Width to Height Ratio and Dominance

  • Barnaby J. W. Dixson
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-16999-6_1419-1



The facial width-to-hip ratio (FWHR) is an anthropometric measure of facial shape. It is calculated by taking the distance from one zygion to the other and dividing it by facial height. Dominance refers to an individual’s position within a social hierarchy, while dominant behavior describes a number of traits including, but not restricted to, inflexibility, drive for achievement or power, and controlling the behavior of others.


Natural selection has shaped the evolution of human visual systems to be highly attuned to extracting socially relevant information, such as age, ethnicity, gender, and emotions from the face (Little et al. 2011). While interpreting facial expressions and displays of emotion are of critical importance during human interpersonal interactions, static facial cues also provide meaningful information relating to sexual maturity and a healthy endocrine system that influence interpersonal...


Sexual Selection Facial Shape Facial Attractiveness Facial Height Facial Masculinity 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Bird, B. M., Jofré, V. S. C., Geniole, S. N., Welker, K. M., Zilioli, S., Maestripieri, D., … & Carré, J. M. (2016). Does the facial width-to-height ratio map onto variability in men’s testosterone concentrations? Evolution and Human Behavior, 37, 392.Google Scholar
  2. Brooks, R. C., Shelly, J. P., Jordan, L. A., & Dixson, B. J. (2015). The multivariate evolution of female body shape in an artificial digital ecosystem. Evolution and Human Behavior, 36(5), 351–358.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Dixson, B. J., & Vasey, P. L. (2012). Beards augment perceptions of men’s aggressiveness, dominance and age, but not attractiveness. Behavioral Ecology, 23, 481–490.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Dixson, A., Dixson, B., & Anderson, M. (2005). Sexual selection and the evolution of visually conspicuous sexually dimorphic traits in male monkeys, apes, and human beings. Annual Review of Sex Research, 16(1), 1–19.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Dixson, B. J., Lee, A. J., Sherlock, J. M., & Talamas, S. N. (2016). Beneath the beard: Do facial morphometrics influence the strength of judgments of men’s beardedness? Evolution and Human Behavior. doi:10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2016.08.004.Google Scholar
  6. Geniole, S. N., & McCormick, C. M. (2015). Facing our ancestors: Judgements of aggression are consistent and related to the facial width-to-height ratio in men irrespective of beards. Evolution and Human Behavior, 36(4), 279–285.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Geniole, S. N., Denson, T. F., Dixson, B. J., Carré, J. M., & McCormick, C. M. (2015). Evidence from meta-analyses of the facial width-to-height ratio as an evolved cue of threat. PloS ONE, 10(7), e0132726.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  8. Haselhuhn, M. P., Ormiston, M. E., & Wong, E. M. (2015). Men’s facial width-to- height ratio predicts aggression: A meta-analysis. PloS One, 10(4), e0122637.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  9. Hodges-Simeon, C. R., Sobraske, K. N. H., Samore, T., Gurven, M., & Gaulin, S. J. (2016). Facial Width-To-Height Ratio (fWHR) is not associated with adolescent testosterone levels. PloS one, 11(4), e0153083.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  10. Holzleitner, I. J., & Perrett, D. I. (2016). Perception of strength from 3D faces is linked to facial cues of physique. Evolution and Human Behavior, 37(3), 217–229.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Kokko, H., Jennions, M. D., & Brooks, R. (2006). Unifying and testing models of sexual selection. Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics, 37, 43–66.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Kramer, R. S. S. (2016). Sexual dimorphism of facial width-to-height ratio in human skulls and faces: A meta-analytical approach. Evolution and Human Behavior. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2016.12.002.
  13. Lefevre, C. E., Etchells, P. J., Howell, E. C., Clark, A. P., & Penton-Voak, I. S. (2014). Facial width-to-height ratio predicts self-reported dominance and aggression in males and females, but a measure of masculinity does not. Biology Letters, 10(10), 20140729.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  14. Little, A. C., Jones, B. C., & DeBruine, L. M. (2011). Facial attractiveness: Evolutionary based research. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, B: Biological Sciences, 366(1571), 1638–1659.CrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  15. Whitehouse, A. J., Gilani, S. Z., Shafait, F., Mian, A., Tan, D. W., Maybery, M. T., … & Eastwood, P. (2015). Prenatal testosterone exposure is related to sexually dimorphic facial morphology in adulthood. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 282(1816), 20151351.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of PsychologyUniversity of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia