Facial masculinity refers to sexually dimorphic male facial features such as deep-set eyes, robust mandible and cheek bones, facial hair, darker complexion, less upper eye-lid exposure, and overall non-neoteny, i.e. maturity, mainly manifesting in smaller eyeballs, thinner lips and less fat deposits than females.
Masculine as dominant/sexy, feminine as friendly[edit | edit source]
The image used in the video used was from the study by Johnson et al. 2001. This study uses an image of men with increasing masculinity, from right-to-left.
The women said that the masculine guy is the most sexy, not just because of his morphological masculine face, but because of the "stubble" and "darker eyes." However, a stubble and darker eyes are not necessarily correlated with high skeletal testosterone or masculinity. Women like a stubble and darker eyes because it fits the stereotypes that a stubble and darker eyes make the men more rugged.
Also, a woman said that the most "masculine" men is "rough in bed" and "arrogant." Basically, they judged the "masculine" men as the more dominant, not just due to his bone structure, but because of his stubble and darker eyes. Also, the most "masculine" man is leaner.
This is consistent with the second study (Said, C. P & Todorov, A. 2011) that being leaner, having facial hair and having darker eyes are more attractive, regardless of morphological masculinity.
There is a problem with the image. Notice that the further you go to the left, skeletal masculinity increases. However, other traits also change. From right to left, the skin becomes darker, the faces are leaner, there is more facial hair, there are darker eyes, etc. The neck is thicker too. These variables have not been controlled for.
Darker complexion[edit | edit source]
A darker complexion has shown to be more attractive to fertile females (Frost 1994). Also facial hair such as a light stubble is more attractive. Facial leanness is also attractive (Rantala 2013). Said & Todorov (2011) has reconfirmed that a darker complexion, increased facial hair and leanness are all attractive in male faces.
From Said & Todoron (2011):
We also found that the overall weak effect of masculinity on the attractiveness of male faces (Rennels et al., 2008; Rhodes, 2006; Swaddle & Reierson, 2002) can be explained by a dissociation between the effects of the shape and reflectance properties of male faces. In general, we found that masculinity in male faces is attractive in the reflectance properties, but that femininity is attractive in the shape properties. This dissociation may also explain the many previously observed contradictory effects of masculinity, given that previous experiments typically defined masculinity with an unspecified combination of shape and reflectance cues.
DeBruine et al. (2010) has masked faces by covering up their hair and necklines, and found that female preferences for facial masculinity is nonexistent. Therefore neck thickness may be a larger contributor to attractiveness than masculinity. In studies that does not mask faces, (e.g. Perett et al. 1998) women actually prefer feminine faces. The same result has occurred in a study that controlled neck thickness (Said & Todorov 2011).
Also, the left male is not only only darker, has more facial hair, but also has better facial harmony. The masculine male not only has protruded supraorbital rims, he has protruded lateral orbital rims and infraorbital rims as well. He has great maxillary and cheekbone projection, and a positive canthal tilt. A receding chin is associated with a retruded maxilla. The masculine male doesn't have a receding chine while the feminine male has one.
In contrast, the feminine male has lateral orbital rim retrusion, as well as infraorbital rim retrusion (you can tell by the dark circles under his eyes), as well as a negative canthal tilt.
Masculinity is linked to health (aka good maxillary development). A long mandible and a 90 degree gonial angle are associated with not just with masculinity, but good maxillary development. So if you see a "masculine" face, it is more likely that it is a HEALTHY face with good maxillary development. Thus, when women say they like a guy with a "good jawline", they refer not just to masculinity but to HEALTHY facial development associated with maxillomandibular protrusion.
From Scott et al. (2010):
The subjective approach has generally found a small, but consistently positive association between perceived masculinity and attractiveness. However, the use of subjective measures is problematic; ratings of masculinity are unlikely to be based on judgements of face shape alone, and the term “masculinity” is liable to being interpreted as normative, and therefore to imply health and/or attractiveness. Consistent with this proposal, prior authors have found that rated masculinity is correlated with perceived health, and that this may explain part of the attractiveness of masculine-rated faces . Associations between rated masculinity and attractiveness may not, therefore, imply a relationship between objective shape-masculinity and attractiveness.
Studies above like Johnston et al. (2010) show that more attractive women prefer "more masculine" faces. But the "more masculine" faces are disputed because their faces are not only more masculine, but they have thicker necks, etc.
Personality stereotypes associated with each face are not also controlled. The left face is stereotyped to be more dominant, regardless of how dominant he actually is.
Evolution[edit | edit source]
A masculine face makes you seem more dominant. But you're famous, you are already dominant. If you're famous, you don't need a masculine face to appear dominant. This explains why many famous people such as Justin Bieber could get away with feminine faces.
People with feminine faces would have to work harder to appear dominant.
It is more expensive to maintain large muscles than to maintain a masculine face, because maintaining large muscles requires more calories. Thus it is plausible to suggest that large muscles rather than a masculine face would have more accurately predicted a desirable mate.
Costly signaling theory states that more expensive traits are more attractive. However, a large jaw is relatively INEXPENSIVE. A larger skeleton would be much more expensive. Think of how much more nutrients you need to maintain a larger skeleton vs. a larger jaw.
This is partially confirmed by the suggestion that neck thickness is more important than facial masculinity. Neck thickness is an indicator of whole body muscle mass and frame size, which matters more due to costly signaling as explained above. I also expect height to matter more than facial masculinity. However no studies have been conducted comparing facial masculinity vs. neck thickness or facial masculinity vs. height.
Also, our male ancestors were probably covered in facial hair anyways, so why would women supposedly like defined chins and jawlines? This is another contradiction to the facial masculinity theory.
Facial masculinity regarding robust chin, cheek bones, and forehead etc. may be an adaptation for hunting and combat, necessitating a robust skull that can withstand punches and other physical traumas. A strong jaw protects jaw fractures; a brow ridge protects the eyes (see deep-set eyes).
There is indeed evidence that men with wider faces are less likely to die as a result of direct contact violence compared to other forms of homicide or other causes of death; though one would expect these men to be at greater risk of such deaths due to the weak but significant (r = 0.1-.2) positive correlation between wider facial width and aggressive behavior in men.
Alternatively or additionally, Puts (2010) suggested masculine features such as large beards and a deep voice may be mere ornament that serves to intimidate other males in intrasexual selection more so than to be attractive to the opposite sex. Robust facial features may also be a form of ornament that mimicks the wide face and large jaws of historic human predators such as big cats, in order to intimidate other males. Beards make the jaw larger making bearded men more intimidating.
References[edit | edit source]
- Scott, I. M., Pound, N., Stephen, I. D., Clark, A. P., & Penton-Voak, I. S. (2010). Does masculinity matter? The contribution of masculine face shape to male attractiveness in humans. PLoS one, 5(10), e13585.
- Said, C. P., & Todorov, A. (2011). A statistical model of facial attractiveness. Psychological science, 22(9), 1183-1190.
- Johnston, V. S., Hagel, R., Franklin, M., Fink, B., & Grammer, K. (2001). Male facial attractiveness: Evidence for hormone-mediated adaptive design. Evolution and human behavior, 22(4), 251-267.
- DeBruine L. M., Re, D. E., Perrett, D. I., Fincher, C. L. & Jones, B. C. (2013). Morphological versus perceptualmeasures of masculinity. European Human
- DeBruine, L. M., Jones, B. C., Smith, F. G., & Little, A. C. (2010). Are attractive men's faces masculine or feminine? The importance of controlling confounds in face stimuli. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 36(3), 751.
- Rantala, M. J., Coetzee, V., Moore, F. R., Skrinda, I., Kecko, S., Krama, T., ... & Krams, I. (2013). Adiposity, compared with masculinity, serves as a more valid cue to immunocompetence in human mate choice. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 280(1751), 20122495.[/quote]
- Penton-Voak, I. S., Little, A. C., Jones, B. C., Burt, D. M., Tiddeman, B. P., & Perrett, D. I. (2003). Female condition influences preferences for sexual dimorphism in faces of male humans (Homo sapiens). Journal of Comparative Psychology, 117(3), 264.