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More than just a pretty face? The relationship between immune function and perceived facial attractiveness

Citation

Mengelkoch, Summer et al. (2022), More than just a pretty face? The relationship between immune function and perceived facial attractiveness, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.95x69p8kc

Abstract

It has long been hypothesized that attractiveness provides a cue to a target’s health and immunocompetence. However, much of the research testing this hypothesis has relied on a small number of indirect proxies of immune function and the results of this research have been mixed. Here, we build on this past research, examining the relationship between target attractiveness and: (a) self-reported health, (b) in vivo measures of inflammation and white blood cell count / composition, and (c) in vitro tests of targets’ immune function, including (c1) leukocyte proliferation in response to immunological stimulants, (c2) phagocytosis of Escherichia coli bioparticles, (c3) NK cell-mediated lysis of target tumor cells, and (c4) Staphylococcus aureus growth in isolated plasma. Results revealed multiple, sometimes sex-differentiated, relationships between targets’ immune function and others’ perceptions of their attractiveness. Together, this work suggests complex, often sex-differentiated relationships between immune function, health, and attractiveness.

Funding

National Science Foundation, Award: BCS Grant No. 155120