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Do men go for beauty or booty? Depends what they have in mind

Research suggests women judge male attractiveness consistently, while men respond differently depending on the length of the anticipated relationship.

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When looking for wives, men scan women's faces. When looking for action, they check out their butts.

Those are the findings of a new University of Texas at Austin study published in the current issue of Evolution and Human Behavior.

The study involved 375 men and women who were asked who they would like to date long- or short-term - based on a series of photographs. In each case, the respondents could choose to see either the person's face or body.

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When it came to short-term relationships, men tended to scope out a woman's body. When asked to choose a long-term partner, they went for the face.

The researchers theorize that's because the body holds more powerful cues about a woman's current fertility - how likely she is to get pregnant right now - than the face. (Think waist-to-hip ratio.)

The face, meanwhile, holds more clues about a woman's reproductive value, including the quality of her genes. From an evolutionary standpoint, genetic quality is key for males picking the females they should invest resources with for raising children.

Women also picked favourites: All gave greater priority to information gleaned from men's faces in the photos.

Still, feminist bloggers have decried the study because it suggests men size women up as wife or hookup material within seconds of meeting them.

No word on how the findings apply to real life, although if they play out at a bar, beer goggles may also factor in.

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Zosia More

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