The stress-linked version of the immunocompetence handicap hypothesis has been proposed to account for inconsistencies in relationships between testosterone and immune response. The model has received some support from studies demonstrating roles of stress hormones in relationships between testosterone, immune function and secondary sexual ornamentation. Such work, however, has relied on artificial elevation of testosterone so may not reflect relationships in natural populations. We created human male facial stimuli on the basis of naturally co-occurring levels of salivary testosterone and the stress hormone cortisol. In Study 1 we tested female preferences for male faces with cues to combinations of the hormones across the menstrual cycle, and in Study 2 we tested perceptions of health and dominance in a novel set of facial stimuli.
- facial masculinity
- stress-linked immunocompetence handicap hypothesis