Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 43, Issue 7, pp 1355–1365 | Cite as

Face and Body: Independent Predictors of Women’s Attractiveness

  • April Bleske-Rechek
  • Carolyn M. Kolb
  • Amy Steffes Stern
  • Katherine Quigley
  • Lyndsay A. Nelson
Original Paper


Women’s faces and bodies are both thought to provide cues to women’s age, health, fertility, and personality. To gain a stronger understanding of how these cues are utilized, we investigated the degree to which ratings of women’s faces and bodies independently predicted ratings of women’s full-body attractiveness. Women came into the lab not knowing they would be photographed. In Study 1 (N = 84), we photographed them in their street clothes; in Study 2 (N = 74), we photographed women in a solid-colored two-piece swimsuit that revealed their body shape, body size, and breast size. We cropped each woman’s original photo into an additional face-only photo and body-only photo; then, independent sets of raters judged women’s pictures. When dressed in their original clothes, women’s face-only ratings were better independent predictors of full-body attractiveness ratings than were their body-only ratings. When cues displayed in women’s bodies were made conspicuous by swimsuits, ratings of faces and bodies were similarly strong predictors of full-body attractiveness ratings. Moreover, women’s body mass index and waist-to-hip ratio were tied to ratings of women’s body attractiveness, with waist-to-hip ratio more important among women wearing swimsuits than among women wearing their original clothes. These results suggest that perceivers attend to cues of women’s health, fertility, and personality to the extent that they are visible.


Body shape Attractiveness ratings Face Body Female attractiveness 



This research was funded by Grants from the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. We thank three anonymous reviewers and Bryan Donovan, Eric Hanley, Luke Heidtke, Jenna Kelley, Katelyn Morrison, Danielle Ryan, and Philip Rechek for feedback on previous drafts of this article.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • April Bleske-Rechek
    • 1
  • Carolyn M. Kolb
    • 1
  • Amy Steffes Stern
    • 2
  • Katherine Quigley
    • 3
  • Lyndsay A. Nelson
    • 4
  1. 1.Psychology DepartmentUniversity of Wisconsin-Eau ClaireEau ClaireUSA
  2. 2.Psychology DepartmentCalifornia State University at FullertonFullertonUSA
  3. 3.Psychology DepartmentBall State UniversityMuncieUSA
  4. 4.Psychology DepartmentEast Tennessee State UniversityJohnson CityUSA

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