The perception of attractiveness can have a significant effect on how people are judged in terms of employment or social opportunities, friendship, sexual behavior, and marriage.
However, there are numerous differences based on gender.
Studies have shown that ovulating heterosexual women prefer faces with masculine traits associated with increased exposure to testosterone during key developmental stages, such as a broad forehead, relatively longer lower face, prominent chin and brow, chiseled jaw and defined cheekbones.
The degree of differences between male and female anatomical traits is called sexual dimorphism.
A study found that the same genetic factors cause facial masculinity in both males and females such that a male with a more masculine face would likely have a sister with a more masculine face due to the siblings having shared genes.
The study also found that, although female faces that were more feminine were judged to be more attractive, there was no association between male facial masculinity and male facial attractiveness for female judges.
Female respondents in the follicular phase of their menstrual cycle were significantly more likely to choose a masculine face than those in menses and luteal phases, Studies have found that women who perceive themselves as physically attractive are more likely to choose men with masculine facial dimorphism, than are women who perceive themselves as physically unattractive.
One study called into question the importance of facial masculinity in physical attractiveness in men arguing that when perceived health, which is factored into facial masculinity, is discounted it makes little difference in physical attractiveness.It has been found that symmetrical men (and women) have a tendency to begin to have sexual intercourse at an earlier age, to have more sexual partners, and to have more one-night stands.They are also more likely to be prone to infidelity.Studies suggest women are less attracted to men with asymmetrical faces, Since achieving symmetry is a difficult task during human growth, requiring billions of cell reproductions while maintaining a parallel structure, achieving symmetry is a visible signal of genetic health.Studies have also suggested that women at peak fertility were more likely to fantasize about men with greater facial symmetry, and other studies have found that male symmetry was the only factor that could significantly predict the likelihood of a woman experiencing orgasm during sex.Women, on average, tend to be attracted to men who are taller than they are, display a high degree of facial symmetry, masculine facial dimorphism, and who have broad shoulders, a relatively narrow waist, and a V-shaped torso.