Sex-differences in preference for looking at the face or body in short-term and long-term mating contexts

Danielle L. Wagstaff, Danielle Sulikowski, Darren Burke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)
219 Downloads (Pure)


Previous research has demonstrated that while women prefer to look at the face of men regardless of relationship context, men preferentially look at women’s bodies for short-term (over long-term) relationship judgments. The current study examined how self-rated mate value and ‘mating intelligence’ correlate with the subjective importance of information from the face or body. In addition, given the apparent sex differences in these judgments, we investigated whether either sex is aware of how the opposite-sex prioritizes this. Participants were 266 undergraduate students/volunteers who completed an online survey, measuring preferences for information from the face or body in short-term or long-term contexts, and a range of self-rated mate value measures. Information from the body was more important in short-term contexts for men (but not women), and correlated positively with mating strategy measures. While both sexes overestimated the opposite-sex’s preference for looking at the body, women accurately perceived men’s differential investment in face or body across contexts, whereas men assumed that women make decisions similarly to themselves. Women might benefit more than men from awareness of opposite-sex preferences as this could afford the enhancement or reduction of cues to sexual availability.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalEvolution, Mind and Behaviour
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2015


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