Homeliness is in the disgust sensitivity of the beholder: relatively unattractive faces appear especially unattractive to individuals higher in pathogen disgust

Justin H. Park*, Florian van Leeuwen, Ian D. Stephen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

Pathogen-relevant variables (e.g., regional variation in pathogen prevalence, individual differences in sensitivity to pathogen disgust) have been found to be associated with judgments and preferences surrounding physical attractiveness, in line with the view that certain morphological features and configurations indicate health and/or immunocompetence. In three studies, we administered the three-domain disgust scale and obtained ratings of attractiveness of faces to examine whether associations emerged between perceivers' disgust sensitivity and their ratings of attractive and/or unattractive targets. The results across the three studies showed that for unattractive targets, perceivers higher in pathogen disgust tended to assign lower attractiveness ratings; for attractive targets, pathogen disgust was uncorrelated with attractiveness ratings. Sexual disgust and moral disgust were not associated with perceptions of unattractive or attractive target faces. These results indicate that disgust-dependent attractiveness perceptions may motivate avoidance of potentially unfit interaction partners. (C) 2012 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)569-577
Number of pages9
JournalEvolution and Human Behavior
Volume33
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2012
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Attractiveness
  • Disgust
  • Individual differences
  • Pathogens
  • Perception
  • BEHAVIORAL IMMUNE-SYSTEM
  • FACIAL ATTRACTIVENESS
  • MATE PREFERENCES
  • DEVELOPMENTAL STABILITY
  • EVOLUTIONARY PSYCHOLOGY
  • PHYSICAL ATTRACTIVENESS
  • WOMENS PREFERENCES
  • CULTURAL VARIATION
  • SEXUAL-DIMORPHISM
  • OBESE PEOPLE

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