The Face of Fertility
Jenny Galvao

146532556_ad2ce9f325_bAccording to a study carried out by John Wheatley of Pennsylvania State University and his associates, the reproductive potential of women can be seen in their faces, as well as heard in their voices.

The current study explored this topic further by investigating the relationship between body mass index (BMI), age, and testosterone levels.

The research found that there was indeed is a positive relationship between all of these factors. The results also found that facial attractiveness as well as vocal attractiveness in women also predicted fertility in women. Not only this, but it was found that fertility could be predicted in both industrial as well as forager societies.

So not only do voices speak of a woman’s reproductive potential, but they also speak of the bearers relative fertility.

In the study, female participants were instructed to participate during two different periods of their menstrual cycles. The researchers collected saliva samples in order to determine testosterone levels. Next, the subject’s height and weight were measured, and lastly photographs and voice recordings of the women were taken.

Male participants then rated the photographs on their attractiveness in terms of short-term relationships, and long-term relationships as well as the attractiveness of the vocal recordings.

The results showed that testosterone was related to facial attractiveness, but, interestingly enough, it was not strongly related to vocal attractiveness. Facial attractiveness was found to correlate negatively with age as well as BMI. In terms of vocal attractiveness, it was found to correlate negatively with BMI, but not age.

According to the study, younger women have faces and voices that are more attractive. This is true for both societal samples. The forager society proved to have an event stronger effect in that younger women were rated higher when younger. Another interesting find was that when asked to evaluate a woman’s attractiveness in the long-term relationship instance, men were more inclined to choose to use a woman’s face rather than her body as a marker of fertility. This suggests that fertility is easier to detect from the face rather than the body.

So, in short, the study shows that not only is there a face of fertility, but there’s also a distinct tone – and this is something that men easily pick up on.

Image Credit: Pierre Tourigny

Jenny Galvao_smallAbout the Author: Jenny Galvao is an undergraduate student at the University of Guelph studying psychology.





Wheatley, John R.; Coren A. Apicella; Robert P. Burriss; Rodrigo A. Cárdenas; Drew H. Bailey, Lisa L.M. Welling and David A. Puts. Women’s Faces and Voices are Cues to Reproductive Potential in Industrial and Forager Societies. Evolution and Human Behavior. 2014.