If you're a young woman looking for a long-term relationship with a young man, a new study suggests your face is your best asset. But if you just want some fun, focus on your body.
Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin found that a man's interest in female faces and bodies varies depending on whether he is interested in a short-term or long-term relationship. The researchers speculate that a woman's body provides hints about her current state of fertility, while her face indicates her long-term value as a mate.
Women, by contrast, didn't change their preferences according to the kind of relationship they were seeking.
In the study, Jaime Confer, a psychology graduate student, and colleagues recruited 375 college students who were told they could look at images of people described as possible short-term or long-term mates. The participants then got to choose whether they wanted to see a face or a body, but not both.
A quarter of men looked at bodies, not faces, when they were told a potential partner would be for the long term, while they did so 51% of the time when told the woman was a potential short-term partner.
"Men's priorities shift depending on what they want in a mate, with facial features taking on more importance when a long-term relationship is the goal," Confer said.
The study findings are published in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior.