One-night stand, or for keeps? Face tells it all

Seems our perception of who is a reliable sexual partner, and who wants a one night stand is reasonably accurate.

14 April, 2008: One’s face gives out subtle hints about one’s sexual preferences – whether one prefers a short-term relationship like a one night stand, or a long-term one – which the opposite sex make use of to make a better choice vis-à-vis partner.

This new insight into the mechanism of mating was discovered by British psychologists who claim that their study is the first to show that “men and women can correctly judge other people’s attitudes to sexual relationships from facial cues alone.”

The study, published in the latest issue of the journal Evolution and Human Behaviour, official journal of Human Behavior and Evolution Society, also found that men, on an average, prefer women who they perceive as open to short-term relationships or one night stands. However, women are interested in men who they understand as more likely to engage in long-term relationships.

Lynda Boothroyd, a psychologist at Durham University, the United Kingdom, and lead author of the paper, told Britain’s Telegraph newspaper: “People can judge the sexual strategy of others simply by looking at faces, but these facial cues remain unknown. We think that, for male faces, people are using facial masculinity – for instance, the shape of the jaw or the forehead. For female faces, we can’t work out what the precise features are.”

The scientists, she added, do not know, either, whether the cues vary from person to person.

In the study, the researchers showed participants pairs of photographs or facial images of men and women in their early 20s with opposing attitudes to relationships. The participants were told to choose the face they believed would be more open to short-term sexual relationships, one-night stands and sex without love.

Of a total of 153 sample participants, 3 out of 4 correctly identified the sexual attitudes from facial photographs alone.

However, the researchers cautioned that facial cues do not necessarily mean that a relationship is imminent. David Perrett, of St Andrew’s University, Scotland, and a member of the research team, explained in the journal Evolution and Human Behaviour: “Women’s choice is what matters. Indeed, most women found promiscuous-looking guys unattractive for both short-term and long-term relationships.”

David Perrett has been studying the link between facial attractiveness and sexual relationship for about 15 years.

Dr Ben Jones, from the Face Research Laboratory at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland, was quoted as commenting on the new study: “Lots of previous studies have shown that people can judge a lot about a person from their face, including things like health and even some personality traits like introversion, but this really is the first study to show that people are also sensitive to subtle facial signals about the type of romantic relationships that others might enjoy.”

A study conducted earlier by Lynda Boothroyd and her colleagues had revealed that men with masculine features are seen as less faithful. Which also is probably the reason why women who want short term relationships or ane asy one night stand prefer these men.

It also came to light in the new study, participated by 700 heterosexual people, that young men and women look for complete opposites when it comes to relationships with the other sex.

Boothroyd wrote in her latest study: “However, here, for the first time we see that men with more interest in short-term relationships are more facially masculine. Our new study found that women open to short-term relationships were seen by others as more attractive. And the men who were open to casual relationships were perceived as more masculine-looking with square jaws, large noses and thin eyes.”

The Telegraph quoted the scientists as saying the research shows that people can use their perceptions to make more informed partner selection depending on the type of relationship they are pursuing. The findings, they added, “is a significant step in further understanding the evolution of partner choice.”





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