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Trends Cogn Sci. 2006 Jan;10(1):9-13. Epub 2005 Nov 28.

Mate choice decisions: the role of facial beauty.

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Department of Psychology, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, NM 88003, USA.


For most people, facial beauty appears to play a prominent role in choosing a mate. Evidence from research on facial attractiveness indicates that physical beauty is a sexually selected trait mediated, in part, by pubertal facial hormone markers that signal important biological information about the displayer. Such signals would be ineffective if they did not elicit appropriate cognitive and/or emotional responses in members of the opposite sex. In this article, I argue that the effectiveness of these hormonal displays varies with perceivers' brains, which have been organized by the degree of steroid hormone exposure in the uterus, and activated by varying levels of circulating steroids following puberty. I further propose that the methodology used for examining mate choice decisions has general applicability for determining how cognitive and emotional evaluations enter into decision processes.

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