Why red-faced men turn a woman's head: Girls can't resist a healthy glow like Prince Harry's, say scientistsWomen find a red face sexy because it indicates health and dominanceBut too much redness suggests anger and aggression, study suggests
00:54 GMT, 8 October 2012
Glowing: Men with ruddy complexions, like Prince Harry, are apparently irresistibly attractive to women
Tall, dark, handsome and… red faced.
Men with ruddy complexions, like Prince Harry, are irresistibly attractive to women.
Rather than pale and interesting, they prefer their chaps to be rosy and glowing, research has found.
In a study, women were asked to manipulate pictures of men’s faces to make them more attractive.
The first thing they did was make their skin tone redder.
It is thought that rosy cheeks are a sign of good circulation and therefore an indication of good health.
Richard Branson, Brad Pitt and former
US president Bill Clinton all have the ruddy look that scientists say
are common to alpha-males with high levels of testosterone.
The researchers, from St Andrews,
Nottingham and Durham universities, showed 45 women computerised photos
of 21 young men and asked them to manipulate their complexions to make
them more attractive.
The women, who had the choice of adding red or yellow tones, tended to plump for a degree of pinkness.
They added even more red when asked to make the men look as dominant as possible.
However, pale-faced men shouldn’t
reach for the blusher. The study also found that the women associated
very red faces with aggression.
Blusher: Prince Harry (right), pictured with his brother Prince William (left), has rosy cheeks – a sign of good circulation and therefore an indication of good health
Red-faced: Bill Clinton, left, may come across as dominant but not aggressive while the pinkish complexion of Brad Pitt, right, may be why so many women find him attractive
‘We have shown that increased redness
enhances the appearance of dominance, aggression and attractiveness in
men’s faces viewed by women,’ said St Andrews researcher Professor David
‘This is something we share with many
other species. For example, the bright yellow beaks and feathers of
many birds can be thought of as adverts showing how healthy a male bird
'What’s more, females of these species prefer to mate with brighter, more coloured males.
‘But this is the first study in which this has been demonstrated in humans.’
The research has been published in the journal Evolutionary Psychology.
Samantha Mann, a psychologist at the University of Portsmouth, agreed that a man’s complexion can colour a woman’s judgment.
Attractive: According to the research, women would be drawn to Sir Alex Ferguson's red face
At the extreme end, she said a very red face may be sign of alcoholism, while a pale face can signal fear or sickness.
‘Hence, it figures that a healthy pink is found to be most attractive in a potential mate,’ she said.
Clinton and Branson have faces that
are dominant without being aggressive, while Brad Pitt has an attractive
slightly rosy hue, she said.
On the other side of the coin, separate research has shown that men really do prefer a lady in red.
Not only is she sexier, but she is
more likely to be asked out on a date – and have more money lavished on
her during the outing.
The effect also works on football teams. Those in red kit tend to win more matches.
It is thought that the colour’s
association with dominance and aggression enhances the game of those
wearing it while creating unease among their opponents.