Judging a Guy by His Face

I found this article fascinating. Not in the basic premise that living in a healthier country makes women less interested in macho men. Whatever to that. But rather, that you can tell how kid-friendly a guy is by his face.

In a small study led by psychologist James Roney at the University of Santa Barbara, 29 women were asked to look at photos of men and rate their masculinity and fondness for infants. (The men had already been tested for child-friendliness and testosterone levels.) The men who were rated as the most masculine generally had higher testosterone levels; the women also were generally accurate in assessing child-friendliness.

So, women, you ought to be asking for photos of your dates before you go out. It’s not about their good looks or lack thereof – just their masculinity.

Because, apparently, you can tell a guy’s testosterone level from his face (“testosterone [is] the hormone behind manly muscles, strong jaws, prominent eyebrow ridges, facial hair and deep voices”), and thereby how good a husband he’ll be.

In another study of 2,100 Air Force veterans, men with testosterone levels one standard deviation above the mean were 43% more likely to get divorced than men with normal levels, 31% more likely to leave home because of marital problems, 38% more likely to cheat on their wives, and 13% more likely to admit that they hit or hurled things at them.

Shades of Grey wrote a short story about not bringing your genes on a date.

Who needs genes? We just want your hormone levels.

I think that is going to become my weird shidduch question from now on.

“What’s his name? Where’s he from? What’s he doing? How do his testosterone levels compare to the  average?”

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7 thoughts on “Judging a Guy by His Face

  1. And this is why the psychologists shall forever remain an object of ridicule by the real scientists.

    By the way, one of the mnemonics for memorizing the twelve cranial nerves (employed in medical and grad schools) is: “Some Say Marry Money But My Brother Says Big Brains Matter More”. At least that’s the way I heard it from my professor (there are variations on some of the words as a Google search can show).

  2. The problem here is that these results (if reflecting reality) only speak of aggregates, not of individuals. If a woman was, hypothetically, to filter out men based on their face lacking in masculinity (or conversely), she would filter out too many good candidates in advance, limit her own pool, and, if every other woman used the same criterion, find her self in fierce competition. A good analogy would be drafting NBA players by height: A certain lower limit may make sense and taller players may on average be better, but height is a secondary criterion of ability and the two have a very imperfect correlation.

  3. @michaeleriksson – Are you basing this on some study or your understanding of the way a study like this would work? If the study is correct then she may filter out a few good candidates but overall she should get it right. I imagine when you say too many that you mean approx 20% will be wrongly filtered out, is this what you meant?

  4. @tzafnas

    What underlies my post are very basic principles of decision making. Generally speaking, human decision making contains a significant amount of heuristics/rules-of-thumb (many hard-wired, many learned; many unconscious, many deliberate). These can serve a valuable role by making for faster decisions, reduce the work-load to filter through alternatives, and so on. However: At the same time they make for worse decisions in details and bring many false positives/negatives.

    Looking at the above case, a woman who needs to decide in a hurry may benefit from this heuristic, as may a woman who has unusually many suitors. However, for the average woman it will do more harm than good.

  5. Really interesting… that could easily be worked into a revised version of the story… though how they got the testosterone level reading may be a little difficult to work out.

  6. Hi,
    Would you mind sharing which blog platform you’re working with? I’m planning to start my own
    blog soon but I’m having a difficult time selecting between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal. The reason I ask is because your design seems different then most blogs and I’m looking for something completely unique.

    P.S. Apologies for getting off-topic but I had
    to ask!

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