Put a (Limbal) Ring on It: Women Perceive Men’s Limbal Rings as a Health / Age Cue in Short-Term Mating Domains

Limbal Rings are a key sign of youthfulness, health and attractiveness. Who knew? (certainly not me).

Another possible biomarker we should be tracking?


Limbal rings are dark annuli encircling the iris that fluctuate in visibility based on health and age. Research also indicates their presence augments facial attractiveness. Given individuals’ prioritization of health cues in short-term mates, those with limbal rings may be implicated as ideal short-term mates. Three studies tested whether limbal rings serve as veridical health cues, specifically the extent to which this cue enhances a person’s value as a short-term mating partner. In Study 1, targets with limbal rings were rated as healthier, an effect that was stronger for female participants and male targets. In Study 2, temporally activated short-term mating motives led women to report a heightened preference for targets with limbal rings. In Study 3, women rated targets with limbal rings as more desirable short-term mates. Results provide evidence for limbal rings as veridical cues to health, particularly in relevant mating domains.

BrownSaccoinpressPSPB.pdf (511.5 KB)

Its an interesting question as to what causes the limbal ring to exist. However, you then need some objective system for quantifying it.

A difficult thing to photograph:

Getting the lighting right is not easy.

Strikes me I have a very slightly perceptable limbal ring (maybe 2/10). Sadly I don’t have similar records going back in time (although I have them now) so I cannot say what the direction of travel is.

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