2009 volume 38(11) pages 1700 – 1711
doi:10.1068/p6423

Cite as:
Coetzee V, Perrett D I, Stephen I D, 2009, "Facial adiposity: A cue to health?" Perception 38(11) 1700 – 1711

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Facial adiposity: A cue to health?

Vinet Coetzee, David I Perrett, Ian D Stephen

Received 27 March 2009, in revised form 19 May 2009; published online 28 October 2009

Abstract. Facial symmetry, averageness, sexual dimorphism, and skin colour/texture all serve as cues to attractiveness, but their role in the perception of health is less clear. This ambiguity could reflect the fact that these facial traits are not the only cues to health. We propose that adiposity is an important, but thus far disregarded, facial cue to health. Our results demonstrate two important prerequisites for any health cue. First, we show that facial adiposity, or the perception of weight in the face, significantly predicts perceived health and attractiveness. Second, we show that perceived facial adiposity is significantly associated with measures of cardiovascular health and reported infections. Perceived facial adiposity, or a correlate thereof, is therefore an important and valid cue to health that should be included in future studies.

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