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Marriage-Minded Women Focus on Men's Faces

Macho looks are less appealing than softer features, study finds

MONDAY, Aug. 13, 2007 (HealthDay News) -- When it comes to a woman's choice of a life-partner, a man's face may mean a lot, a new study finds.

Many women regard men with masculine facial features -- such as a square jaw, larger nose and smaller eyes -- as unsuitable long-term partners, because they're more likely to be domineering, unfaithful, unaffectionate and poor parents, U.K. researchers have found.

On the other hand, women believe that men with finer facial features -- fuller lips, wide eyes and thinner, more curved eyebrows -- to be more committed, less likely to cheat, and to make better parents, said the study by psychologists at Durham and St. Andrews Universities.

For this study, British women were asked to view pictures of men's faces that were digitally altered to look more masculine or feminine and to predict the men's personality traits, including sexual behavior and parenting skills.

The findings are published in the current issue of the journal Personality and Individual Differences.

"This research shows a high amount of agreement between women about what they see, personality wise, when asked to 'judge a book by its cover.' They may well use that impression of someone to decide whether or not to engage with that person. That decision-making process all depends on what a woman is looking for in a relationship at that time of her life," lead author Dr. Lynda Boothroyd, a lecturer in the department of psychology at Durham University, said in a prepared statement.

She and her colleagues said their findings provide new information about what people see in others when they're selecting potential partners and may help advance research in areas such as evolutionary biology, fertility and genetics. It may also offer new insights for use in relationship counseling and psychology.

More information

There's more on first impressions at the American Psychological Association.

SOURCE: Durham University, news release, Aug. 7, 2007
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