A diverse team of international researchers has found that women with stronger immune systems don’t necessarily have prettier faces than women whose immune system is not so strong. In their paper published in the journal Biology Letters, the team describes how they used photographs of women that had been vaccinated against hepatitis B to compare facial beauty.
Recent studies have shown that a strong immune system in men bolstered their attractiveness to women. To find out if the reverse is true, the researchers enlisted the assistance of 52 young Latvian women. Each was photographed a month before and a month after receiving a hepatitis B vaccination—while also providing a blood sample for testing hormone and antibody levels. Facial portraits were also taken during different times of each woman’s menstrual cycle. After the testing was completed, the photographs of the women were shown to 18 young male volunteers who were asked to judge each woman on how attractive or pretty they found her to be, based on a scale of 0 to 11.
After analyzing the results, the researchers found that higher antibody levels (induced by the hepatitis B vaccine) did not result in any of the women being judged more attractive. Instead, they found that women with higher cortisol levels (an indicator of level of stress) were judged to be less attractive. They also found that women that were seen as overweight or underweight were also deemed less attractive.
The researchers suggest their results show an evolutionary process is at play that is different for men and women. High stress and excess or too little body fat are all associated with fertility problems. Thus for men looking to procreate, their best chance lies with tranquil women of average weight. Women on the other hand, appear to have evolved an attraction for males with healthy immune systems, which will hopefully be passed on to their offspring.
The researchers acknowledge that antibody levels are just one measure of immunity strength. Because of that they suggest it was possible that the women judged prettier in the study may have had other immunity advantages that were not measured. More research will have to be conducted to find out for sure. Via Study finds better immune system doesn’t make women more attractive to men.
Unless we are missing something, we think this should fall in the category of ‘the blindingly obvious’ – Deskarati