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Title: Effect of violence and other social indicators on formidability preferences for male faces in Colombia
Author: Borrás Guevara, Martha Lucia
ISNI:       0000 0004 7960 8229
Awarding Body: University of St Andrews
Current Institution: University of St Andrews
Date of Award: 2019
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Facial preferences have been studied in the context of variation in health, media access, education and environmental harshness. This thesis explored the potential influence of violence which has been largely neglected in previous research. Colombia was chosen as field site as it is one of the most violent countries in the world. In such a violent context, preferring partners or allies with greater fighting capacity becomes a matter of survival. Formidability (how big/strong someone is) is a reliable indicator of this capacity and, therefore may be preferred when protection from violence is desired. Facial masculinity and BMI (body mass index which is a measure of weight scaled for height) have been previously associated to fighting capacity. Hence preferences for these two physical traits were studied here. Study 1 explored whether perceptions/experiences of violence influenced masculinity preferences. Women who had experienced/perceived higher violence and who thought men were dangerous to their children preferred less masculine male faces. Violence affected preferences more than variables previously studied (health, access to media, education, etc.). Study 2 explored the effect of violence type: domestic and public. In a different population sample from study 1, it was found that the more women fear domestic violence the lower their facial preference for masculinity. Study 3 explored if public and domestic violence affects preferences for facial cues to BMI. Women considering men to be dangerous to their children showed lower preferences for male facial cues to BMI. Strengthening this finding, study 4 found that women with raised fear of domestic violence showed lower preferences for male facial cues to BMI. Contradicting the initial prediction, this thesis gives convergent evidence that violence perceptions have negative effects on women's preferences for formidability in male faces. These preferences may reflect women's strategy to avoid partners capable of inflicting physical harm to women and their children, particularly within the family household.
Supervisor: Perrett, David Sponsor: Departamento Administrativo de Ciencia ; Tecnología e Innovación (COLCIENCIAS) ; Colombia ; University of St Andrews ; Russell Trust
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Masculinity ; BMI ; Violence ; Domestic violence ; Mate choice ; Evolution ; Formidability ; BF242.B7 ; Face perception ; Family violence