Why women sometimes prefer men with feminine faces

In the second experiment, participants were asked to rate the attractiveness of the the gender-ambiguous faces after they’d been assigned an ethnicity. During that experiment, researchers said, the subjects did not find the gender blends less appealing.

Participants more often preferred the more feminine faces, Winkielman said. But that changed when the context of the experiment changed and the viewer was asked to consider faces within “rigid gender boxes, which can negatively color the impression of the face.”

“These rigid gender categories create difficulties for people who fall somewhere in-between genders and maybe create an unnecessary reduction in their likability,” he said.

Winkielman cautioned against jumping to the conclusion that categorization is a categorically negative way of understanding the social world.