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Pers Soc Psychol Bull. 2018 Jan;44(1):80-91. doi: 10.1177/0146167217733072. Epub 2017 Oct 4.

Put a (Limbal) Ring on It: Women Perceive Men's Limbal Rings as a Health Cue in Short-Term Mating Domains.

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1 The University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg, USA.


Limbal rings are dark annuli encircling the iris that fluctuate in visibility based on health and age. Research also indicates their presence augments facial attractiveness. Given individuals' prioritization of health cues in short-term mates, those with limbal rings may be implicated as ideal short-term mates. Three studies tested whether limbal rings serve as veridical health cues, specifically the extent to which this cue enhances a person's value as a short-term mating partner. In Study 1, targets with limbal rings were rated as healthier, an effect that was stronger for female participants and male targets. In Study 2, temporally activated short-term mating motives led women to report a heightened preference for targets with limbal rings. In Study 3, women rated targets with limbal rings as more desirable short-term mates. Results provide evidence for limbal rings as veridical cues to health, particularly in relevant mating domains.


evolutionary psychology; facial attractiveness; health; limbal rings; short-term mating

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