Men’s Preferences for Women’s Breast Morphology in New Zealand, Samoa, and Papua New Guinea
- 671 Downloads
Sexual selection via mate choice may have influenced the evolution of women’s breast morphology. We conducted an image-based questionnaire quantifying and comparing the preferences of men from Papua New Guinea (PNG), Samoa, and New Zealand (NZ) for images of women’s breast size, breast symmetry, areola size, and areolar pigmentation. Results showed that men from PNG preferred larger breasts to a greater extent than men from Samoa and NZ, providing some support for the hypothesis that men from subsistence living cultures have a greater preference for morphological cues indicative of caloric reserves. Symmetrical breasts were most attractive to men in each culture. However, preferences were highest among NZ men, followed by men from Samoa, and were lowest among men from PNG. These results did not support the hypothesis that people living in higher pathogen environments have a greater preference for traits indicative of pathogen resistance and developmental stability. Large areolae were preferred among men from PNG, and to a lesser extent in Samoa, while in NZ men preferred medium-sized areolae. Thus, men’s preferences for women’s areolar size appear to be highly culturally specific. Darkly pigmented areolae were most attractive to men from Samoa and PNG, whereas men from NZ preferred areolae with medium pigmentation. These findings suggest that areolar pigmentation indicative of sexual maturity is preferred by men rather than lighter pigmentation, which may signal that a woman is in the early years of reproductive maturity. This study highlights the importance of cross-cultural research when testing the role of morphological cues in mate choice.
KeywordsAttractiveness Female breasts Sexual selection Cross-cultural research
We would like to thank the Editor and three anonymous reviewers for helpful and detailed comments that helped improve the article.
- Biro, F. M., Falkner, F., Khoury, P., Morrison, J., & Lucky, A. (1992). Areolar and breast staging in adolescent girls. Journal of Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology, 5, 271–272.Google Scholar
- Buss, D. M. (2003). The evolution of desire (2nd ed.). New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
- Carter, L. E. J., & Heath, B. H. (1990). Somatotyping: Development and applications. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Ford, C. S., & Beach, F. A. (1951). Patterns of sexual behavior. New York: Harper and Row.Google Scholar
- Garn, S. M., & French, N. Y. (1963). Post-partum and age changes in areolar pigmentation. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, 85, 873–875.Google Scholar
- Goodhart, C. B. (1964). A biological view of toplessness. New Scientist, 407, 558–560.Google Scholar
- Grammer, K., Fink, B., Juette, A., Ronzal, G., & Thornhill, R. (2001). Female faces and bodies: N-dimensional feature space and attractiveness. In G. Rhodes & I. Zebrowitz (Eds.), Advances in visual cognition I: Facial attractiveness (pp. 91–125). Westport, CT: Ablex Publishing.Google Scholar
- Guthrie, R. D. (1976). Body hot spots. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold.Google Scholar
- Møller, A. P., & Swaddle, J. P. (1997). Asymmetry, developmental stability and evolution. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Niefert, M. R., Seacat, J. M., & Jobe, W. E. (1985). Lactation failure due to insufficient glandular development of the breast. Pediatrics, 76, 823–828.Google Scholar
- Pawlowski, B. (1999). Permanent breasts as a side effect of subcutaneous fat tissue increase in human evolution. Homo, 50, 149–162.Google Scholar
- Pond, C. (1997). The biological origins of adipose tissue in humans. In M. E. Morbeck, A. Galloway, & A. L. Zihlman (Eds.), The evolving female: A life history perspective (pp. 147–162). Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
- Rhodes, G., & Simmons, L. W. (2007). Symmetry, attractiveness and sexual selection. In R. I. M. Dunbar & L. Barrett (Eds.), The Oxford handbook of evolutionary psychology (pp. 333–364). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Scutt, D., Lancaster, G. A., & Manning, J. T. (2006). Breast asymmetry and predisposition to breast cancer. Breast Cancer Research, 8. doi: 10.1186/bcr1388.
- Short, R. V. (1980). The origins of human sexuality. In C. R. Austin & R. V. Short (Eds.), Reproduction in mammals, Vol. 8. Human sexuality (pp. 1–33). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Simblet, S. (2001). Anatomy for the artist. New York: DK Publishing.Google Scholar
- Symons, D. (1979). The evolution of human sexuality. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Symons, D. (1995). Beauty is in the adaptations of the beholder: The evolutionary psychology of human female sexual attractiveness. In P. R. Abramson & S. D. Pinkerton (Eds.), Sexual nature, sexual culture (pp. 80–118). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
- Tanner, J. M. (1962). Growth at adolescence (2nd ed.). Oxford: Blackwell Scientific Publications.Google Scholar