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Natural Awakenings

The Mystery of Attraction: What Women Look for in a Mate

Feb 01, 2010 03:00AM

Turns out it’s true that when it comes to choosing a mate, women are as complicated as men claim they are, say psychologists who have tested how women evaluate a man’s facial attractiveness. They discovered specifics of masculine appeal on two levels—a sexual level based on individual features like jawbone, cheekbone and lips; and a nonsexual level based on overall attractiveness or aesthetics.

The Penn State psychologists showed 50 female college students images of a variety of male faces, some of which were split horizontally with upper and lower halves shifted in opposite directions, and then asked them to rate what they saw as both hypothetical dates and hypothetical lab partners. Most women chose the whole faces as lab partners and the male split faces as dates.

It appears that seeing a man’s whole face enabled the women to evaluate him more on a nonsexual basis. When the face was split, their way of processing a male face was based on a purely sexual perspective. The study concluded that, for women, while attractiveness appears to be perceived on the whole, they find sexiness can exist in parts of a potential mate’s face.

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