KATHMANDU — Women’s preference for masculine faces is not linked with hormones, according to a study conducted by the Association for Psychological Science.
Data from around 600 participants show that women’s perceptions of male attractiveness do not vary according to their hormone levels, in contrast with some previous research.
“We found no evidence that changes in hormone levels influence the type of men women find attractive,” said lead researcher Benedict C Jones.
“This study is noteworthy for its scale and scope – previous studies typically examined small samples of women using limited measures,” Jones explained adding, “With much larger sample sizes and direct measures of hormonal status, we weren’t able to replicate effects of hormones on women’s preferences for masculine faces.”
The study findings are published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.
To address the limitations of previous studies, Jones and coauthors recruited 584 heterosexual women to participate in a series of weekly test sessions. The participants, in each session, reported whether they were currently in a romantic relationship and whether they were currently using hormonal contraceptives.
They provided a saliva sample for hormone analyses and completed a task that measured their preferences for different types of male faces.
The participants, in each face-preference task, saw 10 pairs of male faces and selected the face in each pair that they found more attractive, rating how strong their preference was.
The two faces in each pair were digitally altered versions of the same photo — one face was altered to have somewhat feminized features and the other was altered to have somewhat masculinised features.
To obscure the specific objective of the study, the researchers interspersed these attractiveness judgments among other filler questions.
As expected, women generally rated the masculinised faces as more attractive than the feminized faces. Preference for the more masculinised faces was also slightly stronger when women judged attractiveness in the context of a short-term relationship as opposed to a long-term relationship.
However, there was no evidence that women’s preferences varied according to levels of fertility-related hormones, such as estradiol and progesterone.
There was also no association between attractiveness judgments and levels of other potentially influential hormones, such as testosterone and cortisol.
These findings run counter to the hypothesis that sexual selection pressures lead women to prefer more masculine mates, who supposedly have greater genetic ‘fitness’, when they are most fertile and most likely to conceive.
The data also showed that oral contraceptive use did not dampen women’s preference for masculine faces, as has been shown previously.
With Agency Inputs
New vaginal ring to prevent HIV, pregnancy is safe: Study
An experimental vaginal ring designed to prevent pregnancy and HIV looks safe, according to an early stage study.
The ring is designed to provide 90 days’ protection at a time. The dual-purpose ring releases the antiretroviral drug dapivirine and the contraceptive hormone levonorgestrel, said researchers led by Dr Sharon Achilles, of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.
This small, 14-day trial involving 24 women who were not pregnant and not infected with HIV was the first clinical study of the ring.
“We are very encouraged by our findings in this first-in-human study of the dapivirine-levonorgestrel ring,” said Achilles, an assistant professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences.
Its use resulted in sufficient levels of levonorgestrel to prevent pregnancy and adequate levels of dapivirine to reduce risk of HIV infection, the researchers noted.
There were no safety concerns, and the ring was well-tolerated, according to the Microbicide Trials Network study.
The researchers have started a second Phase 1 trial in which women will use the ring for 90 days.
“With a second study underway, we are another step closer to potentially having an easy-to-use product that can provide safe and effective, long-acting protection against both HIV and unintended pregnancy,” Achilles said in a network news release.
The research was funded by the US National Institutes of Health and presented Wednesday (Oct 24) at an HIV prevention conference, in Madrid, Spain.
Research presented at meetings is usually considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.