One look at a man's face may give a woman important clues about whether he's "Mr. Right" or just "Mr. Right Now."
A new study shows women are extremely effective at picking up clues from men's faces that reveal whether he might be a good father or just good for a fling.
Researchers found women rated pictures of men whom they perceived as interested in children as most attractive as a long-term mate, while men with the most masculine-looking faces and highest levels of testosterone were rated as most attractive as short-term partners.
"The study provides the first direct evidence that women's attractiveness judgments specifically track both men's affinity for children and men's hormone concentrations," says researcher Dario Maestripieri, associate professor in comparative human development at the University of Chicago, in a news release.
What Women See In Men's Faces
In the study, researchers showed a group of 29 female undergraduates pictures of the faces of 39 male college students from a different university. Each of the men had been tested for testosterone levels and for their interest in children.
Researchers asked the women to rate the men according to how masculine, attractive and kind they appeared plus whether they thought the men liked children. Then they rated the men's attractiveness as short-term romantic partners or as long-term partners for relationships such as marriage.
The results showed that the women were surprisingly accurate at predicting both testosterone levels and interest in children by looking at the men's faces, and these factors played key roles in how attractive the women found the men.
Researchers say the men the women picked as most interested in children were the same men who expressed the greatest interest in children, and the men women rated as most masculine-looking had the highest testosterone levels.
Men Who Like Kids Look Better To Women
But when it came down to rating the men's attractiveness, researchers found that men's perceived interest in children made them look more attractive to women as a long-term partner, even after accounting for how physically attractive or kind the women judged the men.
Researchers say the results suggest that men's interest in children may be an underappreciated influence on women's long-term attraction to men.
The results of the study appear in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences.
SOURCES: Roney, J. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, May 9, 2006; pp. 1-8. News release, University of Chicago.
By Jennifer Warner
Reviewed by Louise Chang, M.D.
© 2006, WebMD Inc. All rights reserved