The valence of experiences with faces influences generalized preferences

Benedict C. Jones, Lisa M. Debruine, Anthony C. Little, David R. Feinberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


Although it is well-established that generalized face preferences influence a wide range of social outcomes, little is known about the proximate mechanisms through which such preferences develop. In two experiments we show that preferences for composites of faces that had been seen paired with an aversive auditory stimulus were significantly weaker than preferences for composites of faces that had been seen paired with a relatively neutral auditory stimulus, demonstrating that the valence of participants experiences with individual faces influences preferences for novel, physically similar faces. While previous findings for experience with faces on subsequent preferences have emphasized the positive effects of familiarity on attraction to novel, physically similar faces, here we emphasize the effects of the valence of peoples experiences and show that negative experiences can decrease preferences for familiar configurations of facial cues.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)119-129
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Evolutionary Psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2007


  • facial attractiveness
  • learning
  • mate preferences
  • prototypes

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