Effects of perceived physical attractiveness on females' facial displays and affect

Richard L. Hazlett, Rudolf Hoehn-Saric

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


This study used facial electromyographic (EMG) techniques to investigate the effects of perceived physical attractiveness of a target on female viewers' facial muscle activity and self-reported emotion. Female subjects viewed slides of adult males and females that varied in attractiveness. When these female subjects viewed same-sex stimuli, the highly attractive targets evoked greater mean corrugator muscle (brow lowering muscle) EMG and greater reported arousal than the less attractive targets, while reported pleasure was not affected by perceptions of same-sex-stimulus attractiveness. When the female subjects viewed males, ratings of felt pleasure, arousal, and to a lesser extent zygomatic EMG were all greater in response to the highly attractive males than the less attractive. The greater corrugator EMG to highly attractive same-sex targets is interpreted as evidence of a defensive reaction to viewing a high-status competitor, and several explanations for the lack of a self-reported increase in negative affect to these targets are considered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)49-57
Number of pages9
JournalEvolution and Human Behavior
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2000


  • Electromyography
  • Emotional response
  • Facial displays
  • Physical attractiveness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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