Volume 4, Issue 2
  • ISSN 1387-5337
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9757
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High levels of sex hormones may lower immunocompetence, making it difficult for a person’s body to fight off infections. Facial characteristics that reveal high levels of sex hormones might signal the presence of a robust immune system. In men, high testosterone levels are associated with prominent cheekbones, wide jaw, and long chin. In women, high estrogen levels are associated with prominent cheekbones, narrow jaw, and short chin. We examined whether facial features associated with immunocompetence positively covary with health. Participants from 2 groups of university students (67 women, 34 men, in total) completed daily measures of psychological, emotional, and physical health over a one-month period. Physiological fitness was assessed via cardiac recovery time following exercise. A facial photograph of each participant was rated along several personality dimensions, activity level, and attractiveness. Using the photographs, we measured participants’ jaw width, chin length, and cheekbone prominence. Results provide unimpressive evidence for the hypotheses that (1) women displaying an estrogenized face and (2) men displaying a testosteronized face are physiologically, psychologically, and emotionally healthier. Discussion highlights directions for future work on whether facial structural characteristics might communicate information about underlying health.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): evolutionary psychology; health; human face
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