Women’s Preferences for Men’s Facial Masculinity and Anticipations of Grandparental Care Provision

Tamsin Saxton, Carmen Lefevre, Johannes Honekopp

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Women vary in the extent to which they prefer facial masculinity in a male partner, and much research has focused on explaining this variation systematically, with reference to the significance of men’s facial masculinity. Masculine-faced men provide some benefits (either real or perceived) as a romantic partner, but are perceived as less investing as parents. Accordingly, we investigated whether a UK-based sample of women (n = 366) had stronger preferences for male facial masculinity if they anticipated that their own parents would provide more time, money, and emotional investment in future grandchildren (i.e. the women’s future offspring), thereby alleviating any potential shortfall from the child’s father. In line with our hypothesis, we found that women had stronger preferences for men’s facial masculinity if the women anticipated that their fathers would provide more financial investment in their future grandchildren. We also found that women anticipated time, money, and emotional investment from their parents (particularly their mother) in their role as grandparents; given existing research on grandparental investment, participants’ anticipations are likely to be at least somewhat realistic.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11-20
Number of pages10
JournalEvolutionary Psychological Science
Issue number1
Early online date14 Aug 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2021


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