Two Studies Show Guitar Increases Male Facebook Attractiveness | Tiffert, Gazeil, Baram & Guéguen, Meineri, Fischer-Lokou

Two studies replicating the same concept, on the occasion of Nicolas Guéguen’s publication in 2013 in a peer-reviewed venue of a previous study of the concept which was published in 2012 in a low-review venue.

Sigal Tifferet, Ofir Gaziel, Yoav Baram; Guitar Increases Male Facebook Attractiveness: Preliminary Support for the Sexual Selection Theory of Music; In Letters on Evolutionary Behavioral Science; Vol. 3, No. 1; 2012; pages 4-6, 3 pages; landing.

Music is a universal phenomenon that has genetic and brain-localized features. As such, it warrants adaptive evolutionary explanations. While some scholars believe that music arose as a by-product of other adaptations, others argue that music is likely to have served some adaptive function, for example in coalition signaling or mother-child bonding. The sexual selection theory of music suggests that music serves as a signal in mate selection. While this claim is prevalent, it lacks empirical evidence. A facebook (sic) experiment revealed that women replied more positively to friendship requests from a man shown in a photo holding a guitar. These results offer initial support for the sexual selection theory of music.

Nicolas Guéguen, Sébastien Meineri, Jacques Fischer-Lokou; Men’s music ability and attractiveness to women in a real-life courtship context; In Psychology of Music; Vol. 41, No 2; 2013-03; paywalled.

This experiment tested the assumption that music plays a role in sexual selection. Three hundred young women were solicited in the street for their phone number by a young male confederate who held either a guitar case or a sports bag in his hands or had no bag at all. Results showed that holding a guitar case was associated with greater compliance to the request, thus suggesting that musical practice is associated with sexual selection.

Vanessa A. Sluming, John T. Manning; Second to fourth digit ratio in elite musicians: Evidence for musical ability as an honest signal of male fitness; In Evolution and Human Behavior; Vol. 21, No. 1; 2000-01; pages 1-9, 8 pages; paywalled.

Abstract Prenatal testosterone may facilitate musical ability. The ratio of the length of the second and fourth digit (2D:4D) is probably determined in utero and is negatively related to adult testosterone concentrations and sperm numbers per ejaculate. Therefore, 2D:4D may be a marker for prenatal testosterone levels. We tested the association between 2D:4D and musical ability by measuring the ratio in 70 musicians (54 men and 16 women) recruited from a British symphony orchestra. The men had significantly lower 2D:4D ratios (indicating high testosterone) than controls (n = 86). The mean 2D:4D of women did not differ significantly from controls (n = 78). Rankings of musical ability within the orchestra were associated with male 2D:4D (high rank = low 2D:4D). Differences in 2D:4D ratio were not found among instrument groups, suggesting that 2D:4D was not related to mechanical advantages in playing particular intruments. Concert audiences showed evidence of a female-biased sex ratio in seats close to the orchestra. This preliminary study supports the thesis that music is a sexually selected trait in men that indicates fertilizing capacity and perhaps good genes. However, the association between low 2D:4D ratio and orchestra membership and high status within the orchestra may result from testosterone-mediated competitive ability. Further tests of the association between 2D:4D and musical ability per se are necessary.

Cited in the Pacific Standard promotion article (below).


  • Study 1 (Tifferet, Gaziel, Baram) participants
    <quote>100 females listed as members of student facebook groups in Israel (Tel-Aviv University and Ben Gurion University) who were identified in their facebook status as single. The mean age as reported on the facebook profiles was 24.4 (SD = 1.7).</quote>
  • Study 2 (Guéguen, Meineri, Fischer-Lokou) participants
    <quote> It featured a 20-year-old man “previously evaluated as having a high level of physical attractiveness.” One sunny Saturday afternoon, in the shopping district of a medium-sized French city, this good-looking guy approached 300 young women (aged approximately 18 to 22). He introduced himself, declared “I think you’re really pretty,” and asked for her phone number so they could arrange to have a drink. For one-third of these brief encounters, he was carrying what was clearly a guitar case. For another third, he was holding a sports bag; for the final third, he was empty-handed.</quote>
  • <quote>Guéguen reports that he has just finished a replication of the Israeli study, except that the subject of the Facebook profile was a woman. He found whether or not she was strumming a guitar in her photo made no difference in respondents’ willingness to be her “friend.” So adding music to the equation appears to increase the attractiveness of men, but not women.</quote> cite


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From Tifferet, Gaziel, Baram