Previous studies on face preferences have found that online and laboratory experiments yield similar results with samples from developed countries, where the majority of the population has internet access. No study has yet explored whether the same holds true in developing countries, where the majority of the population does not have internet access. This gap in the literature has become increasingly important given that several online studies are now using cross-country comparisons. We therefore sought to determine if an online sample is representative of the population in the developing country of El Salvador. In studies of Hispanic men and women aged 18-25, we tested facial masculinity and adiposity preferences by collecting data in person as well as online. Our results showed that there were no differences in preferences between people who reported having internet access, whether they were tested online or in person. This provides evidence that testing style does not bias preferences among the same population. On the other hand, our results showed multiple differences in preferences between people who reported having internet access and people who reported not having internet access. More specifically, we found that people without internet access preferred more feminine men, more masculine women, and women with higher adiposity than people with internet access. We also found that people without internet access had fewer resources (e.g. running water) than people with internet access, suggesting that harshness in the environment may be influencing face preferences. These findings suggest that online studies may provide a distorted perspective of the populations in developing countries. © 2014 Batres, Perrett.
Batres, C., & Perrett, D. I. (2014). The influence of the digital divide on face preferences in El Salvador: People without internet access prefer more feminine men, more masculine women, and women with higher adiposity. PLoS ONE, 9(7). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0100966