Men Don't Always Prefer Feminine Faces, Says Science

Think supermodels are the most desirable women in the world? Not always. A study of nearly 2,000 men from 28 countries published Wednesday found that certain beauty traits such as feminine faces, aren’t as desirable in less-developed nations. (Sorry, Kate Upton!)

While biologists at the University of Turku in Finland say that overall, men desired “feminine-looking” women — those with softer, delicate facial features — the degree to which they did so varied, depending on the wellbeing of the country, measured by its average life span, maternal and infant mortality and other factors. Results showed that in unhealthier countries, guys were drawn to women with “masculine” (stronger, more prominent) faces than those with softer ones.

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Although the reason for this preference isn’t clear, it could stem from evolution. Men may have a better shot at fathering children who survive the elements if they mate with women who are stronger and are able to hold on to resources. Yahoo Shine could not reach lead researcher Urszula Marcinkowska for comment, however she told LiveScience, "It might pay off for men in hard conditions to develop a preference for women who are not very highly feminine, because feminine women are perceived to be less socially dominant.”

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She and her team became interested in how beauty standards change depending on environment after they read research which found that women prefer macho-looking men in less developed nations because strong jaws and brows are perceived to signal good genes.

As such, researchers expected men in poorer countries to be drawn even more to feminine women, so the range of variety was unexpected. For example, men in Nepal were the least likely to favor women with girly faces, followed by Nigerians and Colombians. Conversely, American, Japanese, and Australian men were the most attracted to feminine women.

It's comforting to know that beauty standards aren't so rigid, after all!

Here are three other things that affect sexual attraction:

Stress: Thin is not always in. One study published in the journal The British Psychological Society journal found that the hungrier a guy is, the less he wants a lean woman. Researchers asked a group of men to rate their hunger levels, then had them judge the attractiveness of 10 women’s bodies ranging from thin to obese. The more ravenous the man, the more he preferred a woman with curves. The reason: Heavier frames signal energy reserve (in other words, fat), which the researchers suggested also implies, subconsciously, high social standing.

Ovulation: One University of California, Los Angeles study found that ovulating women have evolved to prefer beefy, dominant guys when they’re most fertile. The idea is that during this short time period, women subconsciously perceive macho guys as offering the most robust sperm. So if you find yourself inexplicably daydreaming about The Rock, it’s just biology playing matchmaker by pairing you with the healthiest-looking suitor.  

His small bank account: Rich guys don’t always have the advantage. Research published by psychologists at the University of California, Berkeley says lower-and middle-income men are more personable than their wealthier counterparts. During the study, rich and not-so-rich men mingled with a crowd while researchers observed their behavior. Results showed that poorer men were friendlier — nodding, and making eye contact, and engaging more in conversation— than the richer guys.

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