Document Type

Article

Journal/Book Title/Conference

Current Anthropology

Volume

36

Issue

5

Publisher

JSTOR

Publication Date

12-1995

First Page

723

Last Page

748

Abstract

Physical attractiveness and its relation to the theory of sexual selection deserve renewed attention from cultural and biological anthropologists. This paper focuses on an anomaly associated with physical attractiveness-in our species, in contrast to many others, males seem to be more concerned than females with the attractiveness of potential sexual partners, perhaps because humans show far more age-related variance in female than in male fecundity. The resulting selection for male attraction to markers of female youth may lead incidentally to attraction to females displaying age-related cues in an exaggerated form. This paper reports cross-cultural evidence that males in five populations (Brazilians, U.S. Americans, Russians, Ache, and Hiwi) show an attraction to females with neotenous facial proportions (a combination of large eyes, small noses, and full lips) even after female age is controlled for. Two further studies show that female models have neotenous cephalofacial proportions relative to U.S. undergraduates and that drawings of faces artificially transformed to make them more or less neotenous are perceived as correspondingly more or less attractive. These results suggest several further lines of investigation, including the relationship between facial and bodily cues and the consequences of attraction to neoteny for morphological evolution

Comments

Published by JSTOR in Current Anthropology