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Testosterone makes men fall for feminine women

The more testosterone in men's blood, the more they are attracted to women with very feminine facial features, write British psychologists in Hormones & Behavior.


That women's hormone levels contribute to the kind of men they are attracted to has been known for some time. When women are fertile, and have relatively high amounts of sex hormone in their blood, they are more attracted to men whose facial features reflect high testosterone levels. The Brits wondered whether the same is true for men as well.

Scientists know how testosterone changes a woman's face, and there is software on the market that enables you to masculinise or feminise photos of women. The researchers used the software to change faces like the one below: the photo on the left shows a woman with 'masculinised' features, and the one on the right shows the same woman, but then 'feminised'.

Testosterone makes men fall for feminine women

The researchers took photos of twenty men and twenty women, and then made masculine and feminine versions of them. They then showed the photos to thirty heterosexual male students. This was done in two different sessions. Both times the test subjects had to say which photo they found most attractive: the masculine or the feminine one.

On both occasions the researchers measured the amount of testosterone that was being produced in the men's saliva. Then the researchers looked at the difference in preference recorded between when the testosterone level was relatively low and when the testosterone level was relatively high. The figure below summarises the results.

Testosterone makes men fall for feminine women

When the men's testosterone levels were relatively high, they showed a greater preference for feminine faces. The effect when they were shown male faces is negligible, but the effect of testosterone fluctuations when looking at female faces was significant.

Horm Behav. 2008 Nov;54(5):703-8.