Original article:

Attractive skin coloration: Harnessing sexual selection to improve diet and health

Evolutionary Psychology 10(5): 842-854 Ross D. Whitehead, School of Psychology, University of St Andrews, St Andrews, Scotland, rw394@st-andrews.ac.ukGözde Ozakinci, School of Medicine, University of St Andrews, St Andrews, ScotlandDavid I. Perrett, School of Psychology, University of St Andrews, St Andrews, Scotland


In this paper we review the mechanisms through which carotenoid coloration could provide a sexually selected cue to condition in species with elaborate color vision. Skin carotenoid pigmentation induced by fruit and vegetable consumption may provide a similar cue to health in humans (particularly light-skinned Asians and Caucasians). Evidence demonstrates that carotenoid-based skin coloration enhances apparent health, and that dietary change can perceptibly impact skin color within weeks. We find that the skin coloration associated with increased fruit and vegetable consumption benefits apparent health to a greater extent than melanin pigmentation. We argue that the benefits to appearance may motivate individuals to improve their diet and that this line of appearance research reveals a potentially powerful strategy for motivating a healthy lifestyle.


skin color, fruit and vegetables, carotenoids, dietary intervention, appearance

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Evolutionary Psychology - An open access peer-reviewed journal - ISSN 1474-7049 © Ian Pitchford and Robert M. Young; individual articles © the author(s)

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