|Women are able to
subconsciously pick up cues of interest in children in men's faces
and use those cues to determine if they are attracted to them for
long-term relationships, according to new research at the University
of Chicago and the University of California, Santa Barbara.
The research also shows that women's judgments
of men's facial masculinity accurately reflect individual men's
testosterone levels. Accordingly, women are attracted to those men
for short-term relationships.
"The study provides the first direct
evidence that women's attractiveness judgments specifically track
both men's affinity for children and men's hormone
concentrations," said Dario Maestripieri, Associate Professor
in Comparative Human Development, and co-author of "Reading
Men's Faces: Women's Mate Attractiveness Judgments Track Men's
Testosterone and Interest in Infants" published on-line in
today's (May 9) issue of Proceedings of the Royal Society B:
Biological Sciences, a British scientific journal.
Women are surprisingly accurate in being able
to determine interest in children and testosterone levels, said
James Roney, Assistant Professor at the University of California,
Santa Barbara, the lead author of the paper. "Our data suggest
that men's interest in children predicts their long-term mate
attractiveness even after we account for how physically attractive
the women rated the men," he said.
Joining the two in the study are Katherine
Hanson, a graduate student in anthropology at the University of
California, Santa Barbara, and Kristina Durante, a graduate student
in psychology at the University of Texas, Austin.
For the study, researchers at the University
of Chicago recruited male undergraduate students from a variety of
ethnic backgrounds who were tested for testosterone and for their
interest in children. Researchers took saliva samples to measure
To determine interest in children, researchers
showed the 39 men in the sample pairs of pictures, each of an adult
and a baby. They were asked which picture they preferred. Five of
the men expressed no interest in the baby pictures, while the rest
expressed a range of interest, up to preferring the baby pictures
The researchers then took pictures of each
man, asking them to display a neutral expression. An oval frame was
placed around each photo to focus attention to the faces and the
photos were shown to 29 undergraduate women from diverse backgrounds
The women were asked to rate the men according
to whether they thought the men liked children, whether they
appeared masculine, physically attractive, or kind. They were then
asked to determine men's attractiveness as short-term romantic
partners or as long-term partners for relationships such as
The men women chose as being most interested
in children were also the same men who had expressed the most
interest in children in the photo test. The women were also able to
determine from their pictures which men had high on testosterone
levels because they perceived the men as looking masculine.
Although women said they were attracted to the
men who tested high for testosterone, an important factor in their
attraction to men for a long-term relationship was their perception
of a man's affinity for children, even after accounting for their
perceptions of men's general kindness.
"The research suggests that men's
interest in children may be a relatively underappreciated influence
on men's long-term mate attractiveness." Roney said.