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Sex Roles

, Volume 73, Issue 7–8, pp 340–354 | Cite as

The Role of Body Size in Mate Selection among African American Young Adults

  • Ellen M. Granberg
  • Leslie G. Simons
  • Ronald L. Simons
Original Article

Abstract

A profusion of studies have demonstrated that body size is a major factor in mate selection for both men and women. The particular role played by weight, however, has been subject to some debate, particularly with respect to the types of body sizes deemed most attractive, and scholars have questioned the degree to which body size preferences are constant across groups. In this paper, we drew from two perspectives on this issue, Sexual Strategies Theory and what we termed the cultural variability perspective, and used survey data to examine how body size was associated with both casual dating and serious romantic relationships. We used a United States sample of 386 African American adolescents and young adults between ages 16 and 21, living in the Midwest and Southeast, and who were enrolled in either high school or college. Results showed that overweight women were more likely to report casually dating than women in the thinnest weight category. Body size was not related to dating status among men. Among women, the results suggest stronger support for the cultural variability argument than for Sexual Strategies Theory. Potential explanations for these findings are discussed.

Keywords

Dating Body Weight Evolutionary psychology Social psychology Race 

Notes

Acknowledgments

This research was supported by the National Institute of Mental Health (MH48165, MH62669), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (029136–02), the National Institute on Drug Abuse (DA021898, 1P30DA027827), the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (2R01AA012768, 3R01AA012768-09S1), the University of Georgia, and Clemson University.

Statement of Ethical Compliance

Conflicts of Interest

We have no financial or other conflicts of interest in this research.

Human Rights

The research, which involves human subjects, received IRB approval prior to being conducted.

Informed Consent

All participants gave informed consent to participate in the study.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ellen M. Granberg
    • 1
  • Leslie G. Simons
    • 2
  • Ronald L. Simons
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Sociology & AnthropologyClemson UniversityClemsonUSA
  2. 2.Department of SociologyUniversity of GeorgiaAthensUSA

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