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Forcing someone to fit into a “rigid gender category” can make them seem less physically appealing to others, according to the results of a new study.
That revelation may explain why “the Johnny Depp effect” — in which women prefer more feminine faces to more masculine ones — applies in some cases, but not others, researchers found.
Study co-author Piotr Winkielman, from the Warwick School of Business at the University of Coventry in England and the University of California at San Diego, said the findings appear to undercut the notion that female attraction is primarily dependent upon “hormonal influences” that are believed by some researchers to be the primary subconscious driver of a woman’s mate selection.
Winkielman said the study sheds light on how cultural forces influence perception, especially when it comes to how we form split-second first impressions at a job interview or in a bar.
To reach their findings, Winkielman and his co-author — professor Jamin Halberstadt of the Department of Psychology at New Zealand’s University of Otago – had participants look at photos of gender-blended face morphs and rate their attractiveness during two separate experiments.
“The idea we tested is that the mental effort of having to assign a gender to an ambiguous face has a flow-on effect of negatively influencing how we feel about that face,” Halberstadt said in a news release.
Read full, original post: Physical attraction, feminine faces and why ‘the Johnny Depp effect’ doesn’t always apply