Sex Roles

, Volume 54, Issue 3, pp 201-211

First online:

A Critical Test of the Waist-to-Hip Ratio Hypothesis of Women's Physical Attractiveness in Britain and Greece

  • Viren SwamiAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University College of London Email author 
  • , Nicholas AntonakopoulosAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University College of London
  • , Martin J. TovéeAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, Newcastle University
  • , Adrian FurnhamAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University College of London

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Body mass index (BMI) and body shape as measured by the waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) have been reported to be the major cues to women's bodily attractiveness. The relative importance of each of these cues was examined cross-culturally in two distinct countries, Greece and Britain. Fifty Britons, 25 British-Greeks, and 25 participants in Greece were asked to rate a set of images of real women with known BMI and WHR. The results showed that, regardless of the cultural setting, BMI is the primary determinant of women's physical attractiveness, whereas WHR emerged as a significant predictor for the Greek groups but not the British group. This finding is discussed in terms of the different gender roles occupied by Britons and Greeks. The discussion critically evaluates evolutionary psychological and sociocultural explanations of preferences for body weight.


physical attractiveness body mass index waist-to-hip ratio gender roles