A tilt of the head can make both men and women look more attractive, according to a new study.
Australian researchers have found that women who tilt their faces forward are seen as more attractive, while men are considered better-looking when they tilt their heads backward.
The results may hark back to the differences in male and female height, the researchers report in the journal Evolutionary Psychology. Men are typically taller than women, so they're used to seeing female faces from above — an effect mimicked by a forward head tilt. Women, on the other hand, usually look up at men's faces, so the head-back tilt may appear more masculine.
The research used computer-generated, three-dimensional models of male and female faces. Participants rated attractiveness, masculinity and femininity of the faces in five positions, ranging from tilted up to tilted down.
Female faces were seen as both more feminine and more attractive with a forward tilt, the study showed. Conversely, a backward tilt made men look both masculine and more attractive. (A head-back, chest out, posture has also been shown to make a person feel more powerful and willing to take risks, according to past research published in September in the journal Psychological Science.)
"While the research provides important information about our evolution, the findings also offer some clues to help unravel the mysteries of mateship rituals in the 21st century," study coauthor Danielle Sulikowski of Macquarie University and the University of Newcastle in Australia said in a statement. "The next step is to determine if people use this effect in real-world mate-attraction scenarios."
Sign up for the Live Science daily newsletter now
Get the world’s most fascinating discoveries delivered straight to your inbox.