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Menstrual cycle, pregnancy and oral contraceptive use alter attraction to apparent health in faces.

Jones, B. C. and Perrett, D. I. and Little, A. C. and Boothroyd, L. and Cornwell, R. E. and Feinberg, D. R. and Tiddeman, B. P. and Whiten, S. and Pitman, R. M. and Hillier, S. G. and Burt, D. M. and Stirrat, M. R. and Smith, M. J. L. and Moore, F. R. (2005) 'Menstrual cycle, pregnancy and oral contraceptive use alter attraction to apparent health in faces.', Proceedings of the Royal Society series B : biological sciences., 272 (1561). pp. 347-354.


Previous studies demonstrating changes in women's face preferences have emphasized increased attraction to cues to possible indirect benefits (e.g. heritable immunity to infection) that coincides with periods of high fertility (e.g. the late follicular phase of the menstrual cycle). By contrast, here we show that when choosing between composite faces with raised or lowered apparent health, women's preferences for faces that are perceived as healthy are (i) stronger during the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle than during the late follicular, fertile phase, (ii) stronger in pregnant women than in non–pregnant women and (iii) stronger in women using oral contraceptives than in women with natural menstrual cycles. Change in preference for male faces was greater for short– than long–term relationships. These findings indicate raised progesterone level is associated with increased attraction to facial cues associated with possible direct benefits (e.g. low risk of infection) and suggest that women's face preferences are influenced by adaptations that compensate for weakened immune system responses during pregnancy and reduce the risk of infection disrupting foetal development.

Item Type:Article
Keywords:Attractiveness, Faces, Menstrual Cycle, Hormones, Pregnancy, Oral Contraception.
Full text:Full text not available from this repository.
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Date accepted:No date available
Date deposited:No date available
Date of first online publication:February 2005
Date first made open access:No date available

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