Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 40, Issue 6, pp 1271–1279 | Cite as

Men’s Preferences for Women’s Breast Morphology in New Zealand, Samoa, and Papua New Guinea

  • Barnaby J. DixsonEmail author
  • Paul L. Vasey
  • Katayo Sagata
  • Nokuthaba Sibanda
  • Wayne L. Linklater
  • Alan F. Dixson
Original Paper


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.


Attractiveness 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.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Barnaby J. Dixson
    • 1
    Email author
  • Paul L. Vasey
    • 2
  • Katayo Sagata
    • 3
  • Nokuthaba Sibanda
    • 4
  • Wayne L. Linklater
    • 1
  • Alan F. Dixson
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Biological SciencesVictoria University of WellingtonWellingtonNew Zealand
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of LethbridgeLethbridgeCanada
  3. 3.Department of ZoologyLa Trobe UniversityMelbourneAustralia
  4. 4.School of Mathematics, Statistics and Operations ResearchVictoria University of WellingtonWellingtonNew Zealand

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