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Psychol Sci. 2014 Feb;25(2):476-84. doi: 10.1177/0956797613510724. Epub 2013 Dec 30.

Genetic factors that increase male facial masculinity decrease facial attractiveness of female relatives.

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1School of Psychology, University of Queensland.


For women, choosing a facially masculine man as a mate is thought to confer genetic benefits to offspring. Crucial assumptions of this hypothesis have not been adequately tested. It has been assumed that variation in facial masculinity is due to genetic variation and that genetic factors that increase male facial masculinity do not increase facial masculinity in female relatives. We objectively quantified the facial masculinity in photos of identical (n = 411) and nonidentical (n = 782) twins and their siblings (n = 106). Using biometrical modeling, we found that much of the variation in male and female facial masculinity is genetic. However, we also found that masculinity of male faces is unrelated to their attractiveness and that facially masculine men tend to have facially masculine, less-attractive sisters. These findings challenge the idea that facially masculine men provide net genetic benefits to offspring and call into question this popular theoretical framework.


evolution; good genes; immunocompetence-handicap principle; intralocus sexual conflict; pathogen; sexual dimorphism; sexually antagonistic selection

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