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Proc Biol Sci. 2001 Aug 7;268(1476):1617-23.

Symmetry, sexual dimorphism in facial proportions and male facial attractiveness.

Author information

  • 1School of Psychology, University of St Andrews, St Andrews, Fife KY16 9JU,UK. ispl@stir.ac.uk


Facial symmetry has been proposed as a marker of developmental stability that may be important in human mate choice. Several studies have demonstrated positive relationships between facial symmetry and attractiveness. It was recently proposed that symmetry is not a primary cue to facial attractiveness, as symmetrical faces remain attractive even when presented as half faces (with no cues to symmetry). Facial sexual dimorphisms ('masculinity') have been suggested as a possible cue that may covary with symmetry in men following data on trait size/symmetry relationships in other species. Here, we use real and computer graphic male faces in order to demonstrate that (i) symmetric faces are more attractive, but not reliably more masculine than less symmetric faces and (ii) that symmetric faces possess characteristics that are attractive independent of symmetry, but that these characteristics remain at present undefined.

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