Skip to content

Research at St Andrews

Event-related potentials modulated by the perception of sexual dimorphism: the influence of attractiveness and sex of faces

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Author(s)

M. L. Carrito, P. Bem-Haja, C. F. Silva, D. I. Perrett, I. M. Santos

School/Research organisations

Abstract

Sexual dimorphism has been proposed as one of the facial traits to have evolved through sexual selection and to affect attractiveness perception. Even with numerous studies documenting its effect on attractiveness and mate choice, the neurophysiological correlates of the perception of sexual dimorphism are not yet fully understood. In the present study, event-related potentials (ERPs) were recorded during visualisation of faces that had been previously transformed in shape to appear more masculine or more feminine. The participants’ task consisted of judging the attractiveness of half of the total number of faces, and performing a sex discrimination task on the other half. Both early and late potentials were modulated by the sex of faces, whereas the effect of the sexually dimorphic transform was mainly visible in the P2 (positive deflection around 200 ms after stimulus onset), EPN (early posterior negativity) and LPP (late positive potentials) components. There was an effect of sexual dimorphism on P2 and EPN amplitudes when female participants visualised male faces, which may indicate that masculinity is particularly attended to when viewing opposite sex members. Also, ERP results seem to support the idea of sex differences in social categorisation decisions regarding faces, although differences were not evident on behavioural results. In general, these findings contribute to a better understanding of how humans perceive sexually dimorphic characteristics in other individuals’ faces and how they affect attractiveness judgements.
Close

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalBiological Psychology
Volume137
Early online date18 Jun 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2018

    Research areas

  • Face perception, Sex discrimination, Sexual dimorphism, Event-related potentials (ERP), Attractiveness, Sex differences

Discover related content
Find related publications, people, projects and more using interactive charts.

View graph of relations

Related by author

  1. Charlie Gross: an inspiration

    Perrett, D., 16 Oct 2020, In : Progress in Neurobiology. In press, 101928.

    Research output: Contribution to journalEditorial

  2. The attractive side of trustworthiness: Effects of relationship context and social interaction anxiety on face preferences

    Carrito, M. L., Santos, I. M., Bem-Haja, P., Lopes, A. A., Silva, C. F. & Perrett, D. I., Jul 2020, In : Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences. 14, 3, p. 261-269 9 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  3. Misperceptions of opposite-sex preferences for thinness and muscularity

    Perrett, D. I. & Lei, X., 25 May 2020, In : British Journal of Psychology. Early View, 18 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  4. Skin color cues to human health: carotenoids, aerobic fitness, and body fat

    Perrett, D. I., Talamas, S., Cairns, P. & Henderson, A. J., 11 Mar 2020, In : Frontiers in Psychology. 11, 14 p., 392.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Related by journal

  1. Preferences for symmetry in faces change across the menstrual cycle

    Little, A. C., Jonesc, B. C., Burt, D. M. & Perrett, D. I., Oct 2007, In : Biological Psychology. 76, p. 209-216 8 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  2. Neural correlates of temporal context discrimination

    Tendolkar, I., Ruhrmann, S., Brockhaus, A., Donaldson, D., Wirtz, K., Fernández, G. & Klosterkötter, J., 1 Jul 2004, In : Biological Psychology. 66, 3, p. 235-255 21 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  3. Distinguishing neural sources of movement preparation and execution: An electrophysiological analysis

    Leuthold, H. & Jentzsch, I., Sep 2002, In : Biological Psychology. 60, 2-3, p. 173-198 26 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

ID: 253395599

Top