Gender and hormone effects on the perception of faces

D. I. Perrett, B. Wiffen, J. Lobmaier, J. K. Lewis, R. H. Sprengelmeyer, A. Hahn, D. W. Hunter, M. R. Stirrat, M. P. Dzhelyova, D. Xiao

Research output: Contribution to journalAbstractpeer-review


We review the effects of reproductive hormones and observer gender on face appearance and perception. Sex differences in face structure are apparent from birth: baby boys look older and more independent than baby girls, and masculinity reduces attractiveness in infant faces. Women are more sensitive to infant faces than men. This sensitivity differences between genders (a) appears for judgments of infant cuteness, (b) disappears when comparing postmenopausal women with men, (c) is absent for judgments of emotion and age in infant faces, and (d) is modulated by sex hormone levels and experience with infants. Men’s growth through puberty exceeds that of women, increasing male facial variation and facial width (relative to face height). Male face width predicts the tendency to exploit others in economic games, and is a cue to perception of low trustworthiness, particularly to women and individuals of low dominance. Trust and attractiveness are further affected by head posture. For adult faces, heterosexual women are motivated to work to see attractive faces of either sex, whereas heterosexual men work only for attractive female faces. Sexually dimorphic face traits and attractiveness both affect have positive effects on motivation to work. Gender differences in face perception seem linked to the extent faces activate brain ‘reward systems’.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)64-64
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Event33rd European Conference on Visual Perception - , Switzerland
Duration: 22 Aug 201026 Aug 2010


Dive into the research topics of 'Gender and hormone effects on the perception of faces'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this