Royal Society Publishing

The relationship between sexual dimorphism in human faces and fluctuating asymmetry

Nicole Koehler, Leigh W. Simmons, Gillian Rhodes, Marianne Peters


Previous studies have found both support and lack of support for a positive relationship between masculinity and symmetry, two putative signs of mate quality, in male faces. We re–examined this relationship using an explicit measure of facial fluctuating asymmetry, as well as other measures of asymmetry, and measures of facial masculinity/femininity. We also used ratings of these traits for faces. Further, we examined the relationship between facial sexual dimorphism and body asymmetry. We found no significant correlations between facial masculinity and any of our measures of asymmetry or ratings of symmetry in males. Facial femininity was not consistently associated with facial symmetry in females, but was associated with body symmetry. Therefore, for females, but not males, facial femininity and body symmetry may reflect similar aspects of mate quality. We also examined the relationships between trait ratings and measurements. Our results provide validation of our ability to measure aspects of asymmetry that are perceived to be symmetrical, and aspects of sexual dimorphism that are perceived as feminine in females and masculine in males.

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