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Masculine Faces Keep Women Sexually Attracted

When Women Are in Fertile Period They Prefer Men With Masculine Facial Features, Study Shows
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WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

Oct. 14, 2010 -- A man with a masculine face is much more likely than a guy with less masculine features to keep his partner's sexual attraction during her fertile period, known to be the time when a woman's eye can wander, according to a new study.

For guys not born with George Clooney's face, there's more bad news. Even being super smart won't help him compensate, it seems. "Even if women are with an intelligent man, they are just as likely to look around during their fertile phase," says Steven Gangestad, PhD, a professor of psychology at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque.

His study, adding to growing information about how a woman's preferences for mates change across the menstrual cycle, is published in Evolution and Human Behavior.

Women's changing preference for mates as their menstrual cycle evolves has been researched for about a dozen years, Gangestad says. "When women are fertile, they prefer masculine traits, such as deep voices and muscular bodies," Gangestad tells WebMD, citing the body of research to date.

Masculine Faces vs. Intelligence

For the new study, Gangestad wanted to know if certain characteristics of men would influence a woman's tendency during her fertile period to be sexually attracted to someone other than her partner.

In this study, he looked specifically at the masculinity of the face and the man's intelligence independently.

Researchers consider a masculine face one that has a more pronounced chin and jaw, with eyes not typically as wide open as a woman's, Gangestad says.

As examples, Gangestad says, he would consider the face of TV character Pee-Wee Herman to be on the feminine side, and the face of George Clooney very masculine.

For the new study, Gangestad interviewed 66 romantically involved heterosexual couples, with the women ages 18 to 44. They were in relationships ranging in duration from one month to 20 years, and nine of the 66 couples were married.

After gathering background information on the participants, including an IQ test given to the men, the researchers asked the women to answer questions when they were in their highly fertile period, as verified by a fertility test, and during a non-fertile time of month.

The women reported whether they felt strong sexual attraction to their current partner and whether they felt sexually attracted to someone else --acquaintance or a stranger -- over the previous two days.

Women also reported whether they fantasized about having sex with someone other than their partner in the two days before answering the questionnaire.

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