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Taller Men Perceived as more Masculine, Study Reports

Update Date: Nov 28, 2014 09:06 AM EST

Several studies have linked physical attractiveness, ranging from body shape to facial features, to masculinity. In a new study, researchers reported that regardless of a man's facial features, people's perception of one's height and weight affects how they view other people's masculinity.

"Masculinity has powerful effects on attractiveness and a range of other attributions, such as leadership and trust," study's lead author, Iris Holzleitner, a fourth year PhD student in the University of St Andrews' Perception Laboratory, said. "It is important that we understand the physical basis of perceptions, and the origins of masculine stereotypes. Here, we showed that perceived facial masculinity has several distinct physical origins."

For this study, the researchers compared the face shapes of short and tall men, and light and heavy men. They identified certain facial cues that were often tied to height and weight. For example, people tended to associate elongated faces with taller people as well as masculinity.

When the team asked participants to rate the men's masculinity based on their faces alone, the researchers found that the participants were more likely to rate men with facial cues that indicated a taller and heavier body more masculine.

"We were surprised to found that the facial cues of height and weight we identified predicted perceptions of height and weight much stronger than actual height and weight," study supervisor, professor David Perrett of the School of Psychology and Neuroscience, said according to Medical Xpress. "Our findings suggests that observers base their perceptual judgments on cues that are rooted in actual physical differences associated with height and weight, but then go on to overgeneralize from these cues."

Holzleitner added, "Intuitively, people understand that women and men differ in their average height and weight. Our study suggests that facial cues to these traits are overgeneralized when judging masculinity."

The study was published in the journal, Perception.

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