A previous study had found that women who live in more violent and less economically well-off situations have a tendency to prefer more masculine men. Urszula Marcinkowska, a biologist at the University of Turku in Finland, wanted to see if there was a similar correlation between men and their preferences.
New research suggests that men raised in places with a higher average lifespan and lower child mortality strongly prefer women who have more feminine features.
In an online survey in 16 languages of 1,972 heterosexual men, aged 18-24, from 28 countries, participants were shown 2 female faces. One had more feminine features – larger eyes, fuller lips, softer jaw – while the other had thin lips, wide chin and a more androgynous face. They were asked to select one from the two choices.
Men from all cultures preferred the feminine face but the number varied. Men from countries with a good health index score preferred the feminine face more than those from a lower health index score.
So men in Japan preferred feminine faces more than men in Nepal. According to Marcinkowska, “Women with more feminine features have, in the past, been found to be less socially dominant and less effective at competing for resources.” Evolution has conditioned men to choose less feminine women in harsher conditions to have an edge at survival.
One explanation for this is that men raised in areas with more disease and germ exposure have lower testosterone levels. Men with higher testosterone prefer more feminine features in women.