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Durham Research Online
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Facial and bodily correlates of family background.

Boothroyd, L. G. and Perrett, D. I. (2006) 'Facial and bodily correlates of family background.', Proceedings of the Royal Society series B : biological sciences., 273 (1599). pp. 2375-2380.


It has been suggested that absence of the father during early childhood has long-reaching effects on reproductive strategy and development of offspring. This paper reports two studies designed to investigate the physical characteristics of daughters associated with father absence. Study 1 used a facial averaging method to produce composite images of faces of women whose parents separated during their childhood (who were ‘father absent’), women whose parents remained together, but had poor quality relationships and women whose parents were together and had good quality relationships. Images were then rated by male and female judges. Father absence and poor parental relationships were associated with apparent facial masculinity and reduced attractiveness in daughters. Poor parental relationships were also associated with reduced apparent health. Study 2 compared family background with body measurements and found that father absence or a poor quality relationship between parents were associated with body masculinity (high waist-to-hip ratio) and increased weight-for-height and adiposity. These results highlight the possibility of physical masculinization being associated with purported father absence ‘effects’.

Item Type:Article
Keywords:Masculinity, Father absence, Facial attraction, Health, Waist–hip ratio.
Full text:(AM) Accepted Manuscript
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Date accepted:No date available
Date deposited:25 April 2014
Date of first online publication:September 2006
Date first made open access:No date available

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