Sexy sons and sexy daughters: the influence of parents' facial characteristics on offspring

R. Elisabeth Cornwell, David I. Perrett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Choosing a mate to maximize fitness underlies all sexual selection theories. Key to understanding mate choice is the inheritance of particular traits. Using family photos, we evaluated the predictions made by sexual selection theories for human mate choice concerning the inheritance of facial characteristics and assortment in facial appearance of parents. We found that both fathers' and mothers' attractiveness predicted the facial attractiveness of daughters: 'sexy daughters'. Fathers and sons were related to each other in facial masculinity but not attractiveness, providing only partial evidence for 'sexy sons'. Mothers and sons did not relate in masculinity-femininity; neither did fathers and daughters. Parents were similar in attractiveness but masculine men were not partnered to feminine women. Our findings support some predictions of Fisherian selection processes and 'good genes' theory but are less consistent with 'correlated response theory' and the immunocompetence handicap principle. (C) 2008 The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1843-1853
Number of pages11
JournalAnimal Behaviour
Volume76
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2008

Keywords

  • attractiveness
  • masculinity
  • parent
  • offspring
  • sexual selection
  • MALE MATE CHOICE
  • IMMUNOCOMPETENCE HANDICAP HYPOTHESIS
  • FEMALE NORTHERN CARDINALS
  • SEXUAL-DIMORPHISM
  • FLUCTUATING ASYMMETRY
  • EVOLUTIONARY PSYCHOLOGY
  • SALIVARY TESTOSTERONE
  • COLORFUL FEMALES
  • APPARENT HEALTH
  • MENSTRUAL-CYCLE

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