Telling facial metrics: facial width is associated with testosterone levels in men

Carmen Emilia Lefevre, Gary J. Lewis, David I. Perrett, Lars Penke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

193 Citations (Scopus)


High facial width-to-height ratio (fWHR) has been associated with a cluster of behavioural traits in men, including aggression and status-striving. This association between face structure and behaviour may be caused by testosterone. Here we investigated the relationship of both baseline and reactive testosterone levels to fWHR. In addition, we investigated the link between testosterone and three well-characterised sexually dimorphic facial metrics. Testosterone was measured in one sample of males (n = 185) before and after a speed-dating event. An additional sample provided only baseline testosterone measures (n = 92). fWHR was positively associated with testosterone reactions to potential mate exposure and marginally associated with baseline testosterone in Sample 1. We found a positive association with baseline testosterone and fWHR in Sample 2. In addition, face-width-to-lower-height ratio was positively associated with testosterone in both samples, suggesting that, in particular, facial width (scaled by two measures of facial height) is associated with testosterone. Importantly, our results also indicate that there is no association between adult testosterone and the sexual dimorphism of face shape. Thus, while our findings question the status of sexual dimorphism as a proxy measure of testosterone, they do provide evidence that testosterone is linked to fWHR and might underlie the relationship between fWHR and behaviour.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)273-279
JournalEvolution and Human Behavior
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2013


  • Menstrual cycle
  • Ovulatory cycle
  • Ovulation
  • Facial masculinity
  • Mate preferences
  • Sexual motivations


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