Masculinity and Perceived Status by Females

Physical Strength in Men Correlates with Attractiveness
Am J Hum Biol. 2006 Dec 7;19(1):82-87

Male facial appearance signals physical strength to women. Fink B, Neave N, Seydel H.Previous studies showed that male faces with extreme features that are likely to be associated with testosterone (T) are perceived as dominant and masculine. Women were reported to prefer masculinized male faces, as they may consider T markers to be an "honest" indication of good health. [and a holdover from the days when physical strength equated with status and leadershipTOM]

However, it is also likely that female preferences for certain male faces arise from the fact that dominant-and masculine-looking males are signaling characteristics which maybe beneficial in intrasexual conflict, and thereby also indicate potential achievers of high status, an important factor in female mate selection.

Although numerous studies were built on this assumption, nothing is known about the relationship between perceived facial dominance and physical strength in men. We measured hand-grip strength, as a measure of overall physical strength, in a sample of 32 male students, and recorded age, body weight, and height. Seventy-nine women rated facial images of these men for dominance, masculinity, and attractiveness.

After controlling for age and bodyweight, hand-grip strength was found to correlate significantly positively with all three measures. The present data thus support the supposition that a male's physical strength is also signaled via facial characteristics of dominance and masculinity, which are considered attractive by women.


  1. It's pretty obvious that this is the case in the warm-adapted,
    African-descent part of our species. It isn't directly applicable to the
    minority Eurasian/Neanderthal part of our species.

    > Yes, facial symmetry is a part of men's attractiveness to women,
    > but this indicates good health inasmuch as it must contribute
    > positively to physical performance right from when males begin
    > to compete intra-sexually in early childhood.

    It only confirms that these same parts of our species (as above) are
    selected on physical traits instead of intelligence. This is also why Africans are more physically fit than Eurasians. Selection on physical traits and strength made them this way.

    > And we know that the aspect of men that women find most physically
    > attractive is not any facial characteristic but height, which of course
    > goes hand-in-hand with physical strength.

    Not at all. Shorter height is a Neanderthal trait, and thus selection for long males is selection against Neanderthal-inheritance. Neanderthals
    were shorter but stronger, so length is not correlated to strength.

    > What we need now is a study that looks at the relationship between
    > facial symmetry and physical strength; and three ways with perceived
    > dominant/masculinized facial characteristics.

    Selection for symmetry is another example of selection against
    Neanderthal-traits. Asymmetry likely is the result of gene-admixture between species. Selection for symmetry is thus the same as selection for "purification" of a species, and it is selection against diversity.

    Leif Ekblad


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