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Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 34, Issue 3, pp 267–276 | Cite as

A Cross-Cultural Investigation of the Role of Foot Size in Physical Attractiveness

  • Daniel M. T. Fessler
  • Daniel Nettle
  • Yalda Afshar
  • Isadora de Andrade Pinheiro
  • Alexander Bolyanatz
  • Monique Borgerhoff Mulder
  • Mark Cravalho
  • Tiara Delgado
  • Bozena Gruzd
  • Melissa Oliveira Correia
  • Daria Khaltourina
  • Andrey Korotayev
  • Jocelyn Marrow
  • Lucineide Santiago de Souza
  • Asta Zbarauskaite
Article

Abstract

Disparate cultural practices suggest that small foot size may contribute to female attractiveness. Two hypotheses potentially explain such a pattern. Sexual dimorphism in foot size may lead observers to view small feet as feminine and large feet as masculine. Alternately, because small female feet index both youth and nulliparity, evolution may have favored a male preference for this attribute in order to maximize returns on male reproductive investment. Whereas the observational hypothesis predicts symmetrical polarizing preferences, with small feet being preferred in women and large feet being preferred in men, the evolutionary hypothesis predicts asymmetrical preferences, with the average phenotype being preferred in men. Using line drawings that varied only in regard to relative foot size, we examined judgments of attractiveness in nine cultures. Small foot size was generally preferred for females, while average foot size was preferred for males. These results provide preliminary support for the hypothesis that humans possess an evolved preference for small feet in females.

Key Words

foot size physical attractiveness sexual selection sexual dimorphism 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daniel M. T. Fessler
    • 1
    • 11
  • Daniel Nettle
    • 2
  • Yalda Afshar
    • 3
  • Isadora de Andrade Pinheiro
    • 4
  • Alexander Bolyanatz
    • 5
  • Monique Borgerhoff Mulder
    • 6
  • Mark Cravalho
    • 4
  • Tiara Delgado
    • 7
  • Bozena Gruzd
    • 8
  • Melissa Oliveira Correia
    • 4
  • Daria Khaltourina
    • 9
  • Andrey Korotayev
    • 9
  • Jocelyn Marrow
    • 10
  • Lucineide Santiago de Souza
    • 4
  • Asta Zbarauskaite
    • 8
  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of CaliforniaLos Angeles
  2. 2.Division of Psychology, Brain and BehaviourUniversity of NewcastleNewcastle upon TyneEngland
  3. 3.Independent scholarBerkeley
  4. 4.Department of SociologyUniversidade Federal da BahiaSalvadorBrazil
  5. 5.Core ProgramBenedictine UniversityLisle
  6. 6.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of CaliforniaDavis
  7. 7.Independent documentary filmmakerNew York
  8. 8.Independent scholarVilniusLithuania
  9. 9.School of History, Political Science and LawRussian State University for the HumanitiesMoscowRussia
  10. 10.Committee on Human DevelopmentUniversity of ChicagoChicago
  11. 11.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of California, Los AngelesLos Angeles

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