The perfect man?

Friday 13 December 2002

Scientists believe they have created the perfect male face – one which proves that the modern woman prefers a man in touch with his feminine side.

The psychologists at the University of St Andrews have created the computer-generated face as a result of tests in which women rated a series of real men’s faces.

The face is surprisingly un- masculine, with no sign of facial hair or ‘rugged’ square-jawed features. Instead, it has characteristically female features such as smooth skin, a rounded jawline and large eyes.

It is believed that women judge men with such feminine facial characteristics to be more in touch with their feminine side, a more honest and faithful partner, who is able to express their emotions – for many, the ‘ideal man’.

The ‘ideal’ face supports the growing notion that today’s women count ‘pretty’ men such as Jude Law and Brad Pitt as the new sex symbols for the millennium.

Tony Little, the principal research psychologist said: “Women find femininity appealing in a male face because they said they associate it with co-operation, honesty and parental ability.

“Strongly masculine features are considered threatening and less attractive, but they still want some combination involving masculine features because they want dominance, too,” he said.

The face is a composite of 12 moderately attractive, average-looking young men, all students who had volunteered to ‘donate’ their faces to be rated.

The faces were rated according to attractiveness by a 34 group of women with an average age of 20. The women were shown various composite images of the men and were asked to give marks out of seven for masculinity and attractiveness.

The psychologists found that the people questioned had almost identical opinions. The clear winner was a composite of all 12, feminised to soften the jaw line and perfect the complexion.

The researchers say smooth skin in men conveys an absence of inherited disease or damage and that the ‘average ness’ of the composite man is a sign of the mainstream majority which has survived down the evolutionary process, thus being less likely to carry harmful genes.

The face was created with a computer program that calculates average distances between the features of different faces, and average hair and jaw lines.

Symmetry in male and female features has long been recognised as an important attribute in sexual attraction, but the rise of feminine appeal in a male face may be a modern trait.

The research team, based at the School of Psychology’s Perception Lab, believe that the ‘feminine’ face is further proof that women are increasingly looking for a ‘new man’ – one who helps with household chores and who can be trusted to be faithful.

Little also believes that the move away from macho-man Hollywood movies such as ‘Terminator’ to caring male characters such as Hugh Grant’s in ‘About a Boy’ typifies the need for men to be seen as emotional beings.

The findings have been published in this month’s British Jounal of Psychology.


Issued by Beattie Media On behalf of the University of St Andrews Contact Gayle Cook on 01334 467227, mobile 07900 050103, or email [email protected] Ref: Perception lab ideal man 101202 View the latest University news at

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