What are women’s opinions of what makes a desirable mate? A new research study explores this question in more detail. How about macho men with features like a strong jaw, squinty eyes and possess a high level of testosterone? Women are apparently more attracted to these features, according to new research. The male hormone testosterone makes men more hunky and these same men have stronger immune systems, which is a biological signal of good health.
Researchers at the Abertay University in the U.K. recruited 74 Latvian men in their early 20s and found that high testosterone correlated with both s*e*xy faces and a strong immune response. Men with the strongest immune response were rated as better looking than those perceived as having a weak immune system.
The connection between testosterone and attractiveness was strongest in men with low levels of the stress hormone cortisol—the body’s fight or flee response. Prolonged levels of cortisol, because of chronic stress, has a blunting effect on the immunity, making people more susceptible to disease. This would suggest that chronic exposure to stress might take a toll on immunity, making certain men less attractive in the eyes of some women.
While much research has examined the relationship between testosterone and the body’s immune system, this new research is the first to directly link women’s opinions of a man’s looks with the strength of his immune system. Researchers next hope to tease out whether the results hold across cultures and across different age ranges.