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For gay and straight men, facial attraction operates similarly
Date:10/30/2009

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., October 30, 2009 A new study from a researcher at Harvard University finds that gay men are most attracted to the most masculine-faced men, while straight men prefer the most feminine-faced women.

The findings suggest that regardless of sexual orientation, men's brains are wired for attraction to sexually dimorphic facesthose with facial features that are most synonymous with their gender.

The research is currently published online in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior, and was led by Aaron Glassenberg, while completing his master's degree in the Department of Psychology at Harvard. Glassenberg is currently a Ph.D. student in organizational behavior in Harvard's Faculty of Arts and Sciences and Harvard Business School. Glassenberg's co-authors are David Feinberg of McMaster University, Benedict Jones and Lisa DeBruine of Aberdeen University, and Anthony Little of Stirling University.

"Our work showed that gay men found highly masculine male faces to be significantly more attractive than feminine male faces. Also, the types of male faces that gay men found attractive generally did not mirror the types of faces that straight women found attractive on average," says Glassenberg. "Men, gay or straight, prefer high sexual dimorphism in the faces of the sex that they are attracted to. Gay men and straight men did not agree on the types of male faces they considered attractive."

The study is the first to examine the facial feature preferences of gay men and lesbian women. Women's preferences are more complex than men's, as indicated by prior research demonstrating that ovulation, contraceptive use, self-perceived attractiveness, and sex drive all affect face preference. In this particular study, straight women preferred more masculine-faced men than lesbian women, while lesbians preferred slightly more masculine female faces than straight women or men.

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Contact: Amy Lavoie
amy_lavoie@harvard.edu
617-496-9982
Harvard University
Source:Eurekalert

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