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Sexually Dimorphic Faciometrics in Humans From Early Adulthood to Late Middle Age: Dynamic, Declining, and Differentiated.

Evol Psychol; 15(3): 1474704917730640, 2017 Jul-Sep.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-28901197

Abstract

Faciometrics have widely been used in contemporary studies on gender-related behavioral traits, for example, perceived and actual aggression, co-operation and trustworthiness, prejudicial beliefs, unethical behavior, and achievement drive, as well as, but to a lesser degree, in nonhuman primates. For the large part, these studies have focused primarily on "student-aged" populations with little empirical scrutiny regarding the efficacy of applying these measures with older participants. This study therefore investigated sexual dimorphism across four age-groups (20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s) in 444 participants (225 men). The expected sexual dimorphism was seen in the youngest age group in three of the four indices. The facial width to height ratio, however, although most commonly used empirically, was not found to be significantly different between men and women, consistent with more recent literature. Importantly, as age increased, sexual dimorphism decreased, but this was not consistent across all measures of it. Rather, it is evident that differing measures of sexual dimorphism follow distinct developmental trajectories. The only single marker which remained significantly different across all age-groups was cheekbone prominence. Sexual dimorphic faciometrics are therefore dynamic, declining, and differentiated through adulthood. Consequently, it is concluded that care should be taken in using faciometrics in studies involving older populations and that more research is needed to understand the impact of these distinct faciometric trajectories in gender- and masculinity-related studies.