What do women want? Facialmetric assessment of multiple motives in the perception of male facial physical attractiveness

J Pers Soc Psychol. 1990 Jul;59(1):61-72. doi: 10.1037//0022-3514.59.1.61.


The multiple motive hypothesis of physical attractiveness suggests that women are attracted to men whose appearances elicit their nurturant feelings, who appear to possess sexual maturity and dominance characteristics, who seem sociable, approacheable, and of high social status. Those multiple motives may cause people to be attracted to individuals who display an optimal combination of neotenous, mature, and expressive facial features, plus desirable grooming attributes. Three quasi-experiments demonstrated that men who possessed the neotenous features of large eyes, the mature features of prominent cheekbones and a large chin, the expressive feature of a big smile, and high-status clothing were seen as more attractive than other men. Further supporting the multiple motive hypothesis, the 2nd and 3rd studies indicated that impressions of attractiveness had strong relations with selections of men to date and to marry but had a curvilinear relation with perceptions of a baby face vs. a mature face.

MeSH terms

  • Beauty*
  • Body Image*
  • Cephalometry
  • Face / anatomy & histology*
  • Facial Expression
  • Female
  • Gender Identity*
  • Humans
  • Male