Facial movement varies by sex and is related to attractiveness

Ed Morrison, L. Gralewski, N. Campbell, I. Penton-Voak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Facial movement has received little attention in studies of human attractiveness, yet dynamic displays are an important aspect of courtship in many species. This experiment investigated whether facial movement could be used to identify sex, and whether the ease of identification was associated with attractiveness. We removed shape cues to sex by applying movement from individual faces to a standardised facial model. Participants were able to distinguish between male and female animations of this model at levels above chance. Furthermore, there was a positive association between ease of sex identification and attractiveness for female, but not male, faces. Analysis of facial movement suggested several behaviours that are more frequent in women than men (blinking, tilting, nodding, shaking, and amount of movement). Although some of these behaviours may be cues to sex identification, none alone was directly linked to attractiveness. Our findings suggest that feminine motion is attractive in female faces, but sexually recognisable movement has no clear influence on male attractiveness, in agreement with work on static faces employing composite images.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)186-192
Number of pages7
JournalEvolution and Human Behavior
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 2007


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