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Pathogen disgust predicts women's preferences for masculinity in men's voices, faces, and bodies

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Abstract

Recent studies suggest that pathogen-related factors may contribute to systematic variation in women’s preferences for masculinity in men’s faces. However, there is very little evidence for similar correlations between pathogen-related factors and women’s preferences for masculinity in other domains (e.g., men’s voices or bodies). Consequently, we conducted a series of studies to examine whether pathogen disgust (assessed using Tybur et al’s Three Domains of Disgust Scale) predicts individual differences in women’s preferences for masculine characteristics in men’s voices, bodies, and faces. We also tested if pathogen disgust predicts individual differences in measures of women’s actual mate choices in the same way. We observed positive correlations between women’s pathogen disgust and their preferences for masculinity in men’s voices (Study 1) and faces and bodies (Study 2). We also observed positive correlations between women’s pathogen disgust and their masculinity ratings of both their current and ideal romantic partners (Study 3). Each of these correlations was independent of the possible effects of women’s sexual and moral disgust. Together, these findings suggest that individual differences in pathogen disgust predict individual differences in women’s masculinity preferences across multiple domains and may also predict individual differences in their actual mate choices.

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