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Biol Lett. 2013 Mar 27;9(3):20130050. doi: 10.1098/rsbl.2013.0050. Print 2013 Jun 23.

Cross-cultural variation in women's preferences for cues to sex- and stress-hormones in the male face.

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  • 1School of Psychology, University of Dundee, , Dundee DD1 4HN, UK. fmoore@dundee.ac.uk


Women in the UK prefer the faces of men with low levels of the stress hormone cortisol, and the relationship is moderated by the sex hormone testosterone. In a Latvian sample, however, women's preferences were not affected by cortisol, and the interaction with testosterone differed from that of the UK. To further explore cross-cultural variation in preferences for facial cues to sex- and stress-hormones, we tested the preferences of women from 13 countries for facial composites constructed to differ in combinations of the hormones. We found significant relationships between a measure of societal development (the United Nations human development index 2011) and preferences for cues to testosterone in the face, and the interaction between preferences for cues to testosterone and cortisol. We also found a significant relationship between preferences for cues to testosterone and a societal-level measure of parasite stress. We conclude that societal-level ecological factors influence the relative value of traits revealed by combinations of sex- and stress-hormones.

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