Cross-cultural variation in women's preferences for cues to sex- and stress-hormones in the male face

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Women in the UK prefer the faces of men with low levels of the stress hormone cortisol, and the relationship is moderated by the sex hormone testosterone. In a Latvian sample, however, women's preferences were not affected by cortisol, and the interaction with testosterone differed from that of the UK. To further explore cross-cultural variation in preferences for facial cues to sex- and stress-hormones, we tested the preferences of women from 13 countries for facial composites constructed to differ in combinations of the hormones. We found significant relationships between a measure of societal development (the United Nations human development index 2011) and preferences for cues to testosterone in the face, and the interaction between preferences for cues to testosterone and cortisol. We also found a significant relationship between preferences for cues to testosterone and a societal-level measure of parasite stress. We conclude that societal-level ecological factors influence the relative value of traits revealed by combinations of sex- and stress-hormones.


  • F. R. Moore
  • V. Coetzee
  • J. Contreras-Garduno
  • L. M. Debruine
  • K. Kleisner
  • I. Krams
  • U. Marcinkowska
  • Andreas Nord
  • D. I. Perrett
  • M. J. Rantala
  • N. Schaum
  • T. N. Suzuki
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Biological Sciences


  • stress-linked immunocompetence handicap, cortisol, testosterone, face, attractiveness, masculinity
Original languageEnglish
Article number20130050
JournalBiology letters
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Publication categoryResearch