Page last updated at 23:27 GMT, Thursday, 27 August 2009 00:27 UK

'Visual diet' links to attraction

Leonardo DiCaprio
Women are said to prefer men with feminine faces like Leonardo DiCaprio

Girls who attend single-sex schools are more attracted to feminine looking boys, researchers have claimed.

The St Andrews University-led study suggested a girls-only education could have a "significant impact" on what the youngsters found attractive.

Boys at all-male schools proved less susceptible to the effect, although the study found they did prefer the company of boys with more masculine faces.

The effect was weakened if children had siblings of the opposite sex at home.

The research team said the results suggested a person's "visual diet" influenced what they thought was attractive.

They asked 240 children, aged 11-15, attending co-educational and single-sex schools, to rate faces in terms of attractiveness.

'Over-riding cue'

It suggested female pupils at single-sex schools, compared with those at mixed schools, had a significantly stronger preference for facial femininity in both male and female faces.

However, the boys demonstrated marginally stronger preferences for facial masculinity in male faces, but did not differ in their ratings of female faces.

Dr Tamsin Saxton, who led the study, said: "Interestingly, the weakest effect of 'visual diet' was in relation to boys' judgments of girls' faces.

"This might be because femininity is such an over-riding cue to female facial attractiveness, or perhaps because even at a single-sex school, boys see more female faces around them, in their teachers and so on."

Previous studies have suggested women tend to prefer men with feminine faces such as Leonardo DiCaprio or Jude Law for long-term relationships.

The research findings, published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences, was a collaboration with Aberdeen, Stirling and Liverpool universities.

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