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The biology of beauty

Scientists have found that a woman’s hormones relate to how attractive she is. The researchers at the University of St Andrews, found that women with higher levels of the female sex hormone, oestrogen, have more attractive looking faces.

The new study, led by psychologist Miriam Law Smith, could explain the underlying reason why men prefer women with feminine faces. It is the first study to demonstrate that women’s facial appearance is linked to their underlying health because oestrogen is the hormone which impacts on women’s reproductive health and fertility. These effects on appearance are likely to depend on the action of oestrogen throughout puberty.

Law Smith and a team of psychologists at the University’s Perception Lab photographed 59 young women’s faces aged between 18 and 25 and analysed their sex hormone levels. Women with higher levels of oestrogen were rated as more attractive, healthy and feminine looking than those with lower levels.

Interestingly, no relationship between appearance and oestrogen was found in women wearing make- up. Researchers believe that while make-up improves facial appearance it may be masking cues normally seen in the face.

Law Smith said: “Women are effectively advertising their general fertility with their faces. Our findings could explain why men universally seem to prefer feminine women’s faces. In evolutionary terms, it makes sense for men to favour feminine fertile women, those that did would have had more babies.”

The research is published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society.

ENDS

NOTE TO EDITORS:

MIRIAM LAW SMITH IS AVAILABLE FOR INTERVIEW ON 01334 463044 or 07736 310969

NOTE TO PICTURE EDITORS:

IMAGES ILLUSTRATING THE RESEARCH ARE AVAILABLE FROM THE PRESS OFFICE – CONTACTS BELOW. IMAGES ARE PROVIDED WITHOUT CHARGE ON THE PROVISO THAT THEY ARE CREDITED TO www.perceptionlab.com

Issued by Beattie Media On behalf of the University of St Andrews Contact Gayle Cook, Press Officer on 01334 467227 / 462529, mobile 07900 050 103, or email gec3@st- andrews.ac.uk Ref: Biology of Beauty 011105.doc View the latest University press releases at http://www.st- andrews.ac.uk

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