We are often told not to put too much stock in outward appearance. But it turns out that faces may tell us a great deal about a person, including whether they have a strong sex drive, according to a September 2017 study published in Archives of Sexual Behavior. The study found that the facial width-to-height ratio (FWHR) gives clues about our sex drive, aggressiveness, and drive for achievement.
The study was conducted in two parts, led by Steven Arnocky of Nipissing University in Canada.
The first study involved 145 undergraduate students who were in romantic relationships. They answered questions about their relationships and their sex drive. The participants were also shown pictures and asked questions about whether they would consider being unfaithful to their partner. The researchers used pictures of participants to calculate each person’s FWHR. They found they could predict the participants’ sex drives based on the FWHR. In addition, those with a higher FWHR were more open to casual sex and infidelity, the study said.
The second study backed these findings. In addition, it found that:
Men and women with shorter, wider faces tend to be more sexually motivated and have a stronger sex drive.
Men with square faces were perceived as more aggressive, more dominant, more unethical, and yet more attractive as short-term sexual partners.
Men with a high FWHR (whether their faces were square or wide) reported a greater sex drive than others.
The researchers speculated that the differences in facial proportions could be the result of variations in testosterone levels during puberty and other developmental periods in life.
Other research on facial measurements
Other studies have reported similar findings. A study that looked at FWHR in a sample of former U.S. presidents found that higher ratios were associated with high achievement, dominance, and aggression. Another study published in January 2017 found that a higher FWHR was associated with inflexibility, controlling behaviors, and a drive for achievement and power.
A review of 56 research papers found that:
Men with larger ratios had higher levels of testosterone. One small study found that men with higher ratios had more children.
Men with higher FWHR behaved in a more threatening way and were more aggressive, more prejudiced, and more likely to deceive others. Women with higher FWHR did not exhibit these traits.
Both men and women with higher ratios were more dominant than those with lower ratios.
These findings, while interesting, aren’t absolute. There are certainly non-aggressive people with short, wide faces and more threatening ones who have long, narrow faces.
How to find your facial height-to-width ratio
Measure the width of your face from ear to ear, just above the eyes. Divide this number by the length from the top of your eyes to the top of your lips. The average ratio is around 2, according to the study.
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Eileen Bailey is a freelance health writer. She is the author of What Went Right: Reframe Your Thinking for a Happier Now, Idiot’s Guide to Adult ADHD, Idiot’s Guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Essential Guide to Overcoming Obsessive Love, and Essential Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome. She can be found on Twitter @eileenmbailey and on Facebook at eileenmbailey.