Human body odour, symmetry and attractiveness.
Several studies have found body and facial symmetry as well as attractiveness to be human mate choice criteria. These characteristics are presumed to signal developmental stability. Human body odour has been shown to influence female mate choice depending on the immune system, but the question of whether smell could signal general mate quality, as do other cues, was not addressed in previous studies. We compared ratings of body odour, attractiveness, and measurements of facial and body asymmetry of 16 male and 19 female subjects. Subjects wore a T-shirt for three consecutive nights under controlled conditions. Opposite-sex raters judged the odour of the T-shirts and another group evaluated portraits of the subjects for attractiveness. We measured seven bilateral traits of the subject's body to assess body asymmetry. Facial asymmetry was examined by distance measurements of portrait photographs. The results showed a significant positive correlation between facial attractiveness and sexiness of body odour for female subjects. We found positive relationships between body odour and attractiveness and negative ones between smell and body asymmetry for males only if female odour raters were in the most fertile phase of their menstrual cycle. The outcomes are discussed in the light of different male and female reproductive strategies. (+info)
The pursuit of beauty: the enforcement of aesthetics or a freely adopted lifestyle?
Facelifts, tummy tucks and breast enlargements are no longer the privilege of the rich and the famous. Any woman can have all these and many more cosmetic surgical treatments, and an increasing number of women do. Are they having cosmetic surgery because they are duped by a male-dominated beauty system, or do they genuinely choose these operations themselves? Feminists (and others) give diametrically opposed answers to this question. At the heart of the controversy, or so I claim in this article, lies a conceptual problem about free choice; therefore, the only thing that can settle it is a conceptual analysis of "freedom". After having briefly outlined the views of both sides of the debate, I offer such an analysis. (+info)
Beautiful faces have variable reward value: fMRI and behavioral evidence.
The brain circuitry processing rewarding and aversive stimuli is hypothesized to be at the core of motivated behavior. In this study, discrete categories of beautiful faces are shown to have differing reward values and to differentially activate reward circuitry in human subjects. In particular, young heterosexual males rate pictures of beautiful males and females as attractive, but exert effort via a keypress procedure only to view pictures of attractive females. Functional magnetic resonance imaging at 3 T shows that passive viewing of beautiful female faces activates reward circuitry, in particular the nucleus accumbens. An extended set of subcortical and paralimbic reward regions also appear to follow aspects of the keypress rather than the rating procedures, suggesting that reward circuitry function does not include aesthetic assessment. (+info)
Self-perceived attractiveness influences human female preferences for sexual dimorphism and symmetry in male faces.
Exaggerated sexual dimorphism and symmetry in human faces have both been linked to potential 'good-gene' benefits and have also been found to influence the attractiveness of male faces. The current study explores how female self-rated attractiveness influences male face preference in females using faces manipulated with computer graphics. The study demonstrates that there is a relatively increased preference for masculinity and an increased preference for symmetry for women who regard themselves as attractive. This finding may reflect a condition-dependent mating strategy analogous to behaviours found in other species. The absence of a preference for proposed markers of good genes may be adaptive in women of low mate value to avoid the costs of decreased parental investment from the owners of such characteristics. (+info)
Testosterone increases perceived dominance but not attractiveness in human males.
Recent evidence suggests that certain features on the human face indicate hormonal levels during growth, and that women judge the attractiveness of potential partners based on the appearance of these features. One entrenched notion is male facial features that are affected by testosterone are used as direct cues in mate preference. Testosterone may be particularly revealing as it is purported to be an honest indicator of male fitness. Increased testosterone may impose an immunocompetence handicap on the bearer and only the best males can carry this handicap. To date, tests of this theory have been indirect, and have relied on digital manipulations that represent unrealistic continuums of masculine and feminine faces. We provide a much more direct test by manipulating digitally male faces to mimic known shape variation, caused by varying levels of testosterone through puberty. We produced a continuum of faces that ranged from low to high levels of testosterone in male faces and asked women to choose the points on the continuum that appeared most attractive and most physically dominant. Our data indicate that high testosterone faces reveal dominance. However, there is no evidence of directional selection for increased (or decreased) testosterone in terms of attractiveness to the opposite sex. We discuss the relevance and applicability of evolutionary interpretations of our data and, contrary to predictions, provide evidence of stabilizing selection acting on testosterone through mate preferences. (+info)
Anaphylactic shock after traditional Russian beauty-treatment-unpleasant surprise in a strongly penicillin-sensitized patient.
Beta-lactam drugs can induce allergic immune responses due to their antigenic determinants, promoting IgE-binding and anaphylactic reactions to penicillin. We report a case of a 44-year-old woman who experienced several severe systemic reactions after being exposed directly or indirectly to penicillin. An anaphylactic shock occurred after anal installation of her daughter's urine, who had been treated with penicillin. Skin testing revealed immediate type reactions to major and minor determinants of penicillin indicating an IgE-mediated sensitization. In vitro tests showed elevated levels of penicillin specific IgE. Clinical features, difficulties in taking history and test options for patients with IgE-mediated sensitizations are briefly reviewed in the context of the presented case of unexpected reactions to penicillin due to an immediate type hypersensitivity. (+info)
Second to fourth digit ratio, testosterone and perceived male dominance.
Previous studies have shown that male faces with extreme features associated with testosterone are perceived as dominant and masculine. Women have been reported to prefer more masculinized male faces as they may consider testosterone markers to be an 'honest' indication of good health, and such considerations may underlie their aesthetic preferences. However, pronounced testosterone facial markers are also associated with dominance, and several negative personality traits. This suggests that female aesthetic preferences may be an adaptive compromise between positive attributes associated with higher than average testosterone, and negative attributes associated with more extreme masculinization. This current study attempts to clarify the role of hormone markers in female perceptions of dominance, masculinity and attractiveness, in male facial images. Recent evidence suggests that the relative length of the 2nd to 4th finger (2D : 4D ratio) is a pointer to prenatal testosterone levels and may thus serve as a window to the prenatal hormonal environment. We measured 2D : 4D in a sample of male college students and took salivary samples to analyse circulating levels of testosterone. Women rated facial images of these males for dominance, masculinity and attractiveness. Our results show that male 2D : 4D was significantly negatively related to perceived dominance and masculinity but not attractiveness. Circulating testosterone levels were not related to dominance, masculinity or attractiveness. These findings suggest that: (i) high prenatal levels of testosterone serve to 'organize' male facial features to subsequently reflect dominance and masculine characteristics presumably activated during puberty; and (ii) attractiveness is not directly related to testosterone levels. We conclude that facial dominance and masculinity reflect a male's perceived status rather than his physical attraction to women. (+info)
Direct selection on male attractiveness and female preference fails to produce a response.
BACKGROUND: Theoretical studies suggest that direct and indirect selection have the potential to cause substantial evolutionary change in female mate choice. Similarly, sexual selection is considered a strong force in the evolution of male attractiveness and the exaggeration of secondary sexual traits. Few studies have, however, directly tested how female mate choice and male attractiveness respond to selection. Here we report the results of a selection experiment in which we selected directly on female mating preference for attractive males and, independently, on male attractiveness in the guppy, Poecilia reticulata. We measured the direct and correlated responses of female mate choice and male attractiveness to selection and the correlated responses of male ornamental traits, female fecundity and adult male and female survival. RESULTS: Surprisingly, neither female mate choice nor male attractiveness responded significantly to direct or to indirect selection. Fecundity did differ significantly among lines in a way that suggests a possible sexually-antagonistic cost to male attractiveness. CONCLUSIONS: The opportunity for evolutionary change in female mate choice and male attractiveness may be much smaller than predicted by current theory, and may thus have important consequences for how we understand the evolution of female mate choice and male attractiveness. We discuss a number of factors that may have constrained the response of female choice and male attractiveness to selection, including low heritabilities, low levels of genetic (co)variation in the multivariate direction of selection, sexually-antagonistic constraint on sexual selection and the "environmental covariance hypothesis". (+info)