A new study published in the journal ‘Behavioural Ecology and Sociobiology’ says that women who are afraid of violence within partnerships prefer to date less masculine men. This is the first study to find that violence within partnerships influences partner preferences.

The study was carried out at the University of St Andrews in the UK, where researchers asked 83 women to complete a questionnaire about their feeling of danger from public violence and the likelihood of violence in a partnership. Researchers then asked them to select male faces they considered more attractive.

“We found that even after controlling for participant age, education, access to media (TV and internet) and health, violence within partnership had a large influence on masculinity preferences,” said Martha Lucia Borras-Guevara, from the University of St Andrews.

Preferring more feminine men may reflect a strategy of women to avoid partners who are more likely to behave aggressively and dangerously towards them, that is, more masculine partners,” said Carlota Batres, from the University of St Andrews.

What studies say about women’s attraction to masculine men:

Other studies have shown that women prefer masculine faces in the short term, but not in the long term, as they find that they may be prone to cheating. However, research shows if a woman thinks that she is of high mate value then she prefers masculine men, because she may consider herself valuable enough for him not to consider cheating.

It’s also interesting to note that in countries in which disease is high and which have high-income inequality, women prefer men with more masculine faces. Researchers say that evolutionarily competitive men may have been better providers.

There is also a study which shows that women on the birth control pill prefer less masculine men.

Factors which drive attraction are complex, and we can’t generalise. The notion that the more masculine a face, the more attractive it is for women, is just not true!

Also Read: Behind Closed Doors: Growing up with domestic violence in India

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