José A Muñoz-Reyes, Carlos Gil-Burmann, Bernhard Fink, and Enrique Turiegano (2012)

Facial asymmetry and aggression in Spanish adolescents

Personality and Individual Differences, 53(7):857-861.

Intrasexual competition is often characterized by the struggle for sexual partners. Men’s competitive behavior typically includes physically aggressive acts or anger, whereas women tend to disgrace their rivals via derogation. Fluctuating asymmetry (FA), a measure of developmental instability and health, has been reported to negatively correlate with physical aggression in boys and young adults. In this study, we investigated the relationship between facial FA and different forms of aggression in a sample of 296 Spanish adolescents (148 men and 148 women) aged 14–19 years. Geometric morphometrics was used to assess facial FA and the buss and perry aggression questionnaire (BPAQ) was administered to collect self-reports of physical aggression, verbal aggression, anger and hostility. Our results showed a negative association between facial FA and anger in male adolescents and with hostility only in older adolescent women (17–19 years). No significant association was detected between physical aggression and facial FA in either sex. We discuss our results with reference to the recalibrational theory of anger (in men) and in terms of competitor derogation (in women).