Human Nature

, Volume 15, Issue 2, pp 209–224 | Cite as

Male sexual strategies modify ratings of female models with specific waist-to-hip ratios

  • Gary L. BraseEmail author
  • Gary Walker


Female waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) has generally been an important general predictor of ratings of physical attractiveness and related characteristics. Individual differences in ratings do exist, however, and may be related to differences in the reproductive tactics of the male raters such as pursuit of short-term or long-term relationships and adjustments based on perceptions of one’s own quality as a mate. Forty males, categorized according to sociosexual orientation and physical qualities (WHR, Body Mass Index, and self-rated desirability), rated female models on both attractiveness and likelihood they would approach them. Sociosexually restricted males were less likely to approach females rated as most attractive (with 0.68–0.72 WHR), as compared with unrestricted males. Males with lower scores in terms of physical qualities gave ratings indicating more favorable evaluations of female models with lower WHR. The results indicate that attractiveness and willingness to approach are overlapping but distinguishable constructs, both of which are influenced by variations in characteristics of the raters.

Key words

Body weight Evolutionary theory Human mate selection Judgment Physical attractiveness Physique Waist-to-hip ratio 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Anderson, J. L., C. B. Crawford, J. Nadeau, and T. Lindberg 1992 Was the Duchess of Windsor Right? A Cross-cultural Review of the Socioecology of Ideals of Female Body Shape. Ethology and Sociobiology 13:197–227.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Andrews, P.W., S. W. Gangestad, and D. Matthews 2002 Adaptationism: How to Carry Out an Exaptationist Program. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 25:489–553.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Belsky, J. 1997 Attachment, Mating, and Parenting: An Evolutionary Interpretation. Human Nature 8:361–381.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bjorntorp, P. 1988 The Associations Between Obesity, Adipose Tissue Distribution and Disease. Acta Medica Scandinavia (Supplement) 723:121–134.Google Scholar
  5. 1991 Adipose Tissue Distribution and Function. International Journal of Obesity 15:67–81.Google Scholar
  6. Buss, D. M., and D. P. Schmitt 1993 Sexual Strategies Theory—An Evolutionary Perspective on Human Mating. Psychological Review 100:204–232.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Denti, L., G. Pasolini, L. Sanfelici, R. Benedetti, A. Cecchetti, G. P. Ceda, F. Ablondi, and G. Valenti 2000 Aging-Related Decline of Gonadal Function in Healthy Men: Correlation with Body Composition and Lipoproteins. Journal of the American Geriatric Society 48:51–58.Google Scholar
  8. Dijkstra, P., and B. P. Buunk 2001 Sex Differences in the Jealousy-Evoking Nature of a Rival’s Body Build. Evolution and Human Behavior 22:335–341.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Draper, P., and J. Belsky 1990 Personality Development in the Evolutionary Perspective. Journal of Personality 58:141–161.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Furnham, A., M. Dias, and A. McClelland 1998 The Role of Body Weight, Waist-to-hip Ratio, and Breast Size in Judgments of Female Attractiveness. Sex Roles 39:311–326.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Furnham, A., M. Lavancy, and A. McClelland 2001 Waist-to-hip Ratio and Facial Attractiveness: A Pilot Study. Personality and Individual Differences 30:491–502.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Gangestad, S. W., and D. M. Buss 1993 Pathogen Prevalence and Human Mate Preferences. Ethology and Sociobiology 14:89–96.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Gangestad, S. W., and J. A. Simpson 1990 Toward An Evolutionary History of Female Sociosexual Variation. Journal of Personality 58:69–96.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 2000 The Evolution of Human Mating: Trade-Offs and Strategic Pluralism. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 23:573–644.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Haffner, S. M., R. A. Valdez, M. P. Stern, and M. S. Katz 1993 Obesity, Body Fat Distribution and Sex Hormones in Men. International Journal of Obesity Related Metabolic Disorders 17:643–649.Google Scholar
  16. Henss, R. 2000 Waist-to-hip Ratio and Female Attractiveness. Evidence from Photographic Stimuli and Methodological Considerations. Personality and Individual Differences 28:501–513.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Jankowska, E. W. A., M. Medras, and E. Rogucka 2000a Body Mass Index, Waist/Hip Ratio and Androgen-Estrogen Activity in Younger Versus Older Polish Men. The Aging Male 3:177–184.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Jankowska, E. A., E. Rogucka, M. Medras, and Z. Welon 2000b Relationships between Age-Related Changes of Sex Steroids, Obesity and Body Fat Distribution among Healthy Polish Males. Medical Science Monitor 6:1159–1164.Google Scholar
  19. Kaye, S. A., A. R. Folsom, R. J. Prineas, J. P. Potter, and S. M. Gapstur 1990 The Association of Body Fat Distribution with Lifestyle and Reproductive Factors in a Population Study of Post-Menopausal Women. International Journal of Obesity 14:583–591.Google Scholar
  20. Kenrick, D. T., E. K. Sadalla, G. Groth, and M. R. Trost 1990 Evolution, Traits, and the Stages of Human Courtship: Qualifying the Parental Investment Model. Journal of Personality 58:97–117.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Kim, K., P. K. Smith, and A. L. Palermiti 1997 Conflict in Childhood and Reproductive Development. Evolution and Human Behavior 18:109–142.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Marlowe, F., and A. Wetsman 2001 Preferred Waist-to-hip Ratio and Ecology. Personality and Individual Differences 30:481–489.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Moller, A. P., M. Soler, and R. Thornhill 1995 Breast Asymmetry, Sexual Selection, and Human Reproductive Success. Ethology and Sociobiology 16:207–219.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Simpson, J. A., and S.W. Gangestad 1991 Individual Differences in Sociosexuality: Evidence for Convergent and Discriminant Validity. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 60:870–883.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 1992 Sociosexuality and Romantic Partner Choice. Journal of Personality 60: 31–51.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Singh, D. 1993a Adaptive Significance of Female Physical Attractiveness: Role of Waistto-hip Ratio. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 65:293–307.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 1993b Body Shape and Women’s Attractiveness: The Critical Role of Waist-to-hip Ratio. Human Nature 4:297–321.Google Scholar
  28. 1994a Body Fat Distribution and Perception of Desirable Female Body Shape by Young Black Men and Women. International Journal of Eating Disorders 16:283–288.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 1994b Is Thin Really Beautiful and Good? Relationship between Waist-to-hip Ratio (WHR) and Female Attractiveness. Personality and Individual Differences 16:123–132.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 1995a Female Health, Attractiveness, and Desirability for Relationships: Role of Breast Asymmetry and Waist-to-Hip Ratio. Ethology and Sociobiology 16: 465–481.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. 1995b Female Judgment of Male Attractiveness and Desirability for Relationships: Role of Waist-to-hip Ratio and Financial Status. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 69:1089–1101.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Singh, D., and S. Luis 1995 Ethnic and Gender Consensus for the Effect of the Waist-to-hip Ratio on Judgment of Women’s Attractiveness and Desirability for Relationships. Ethology and Sociobiology 16:484–507.Google Scholar
  33. Singh, D., and R. K. Young 1995 Body Weight, Waist-to-hip Ratio, Breasts, and Hips: Role in Judgements of Female Attractiveness and Desirability for Relationships. Ethology and Sociobiology 16:483–507.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Snyder, M., J. A. Simpson, and S. Gangestad 1986 Personality and Sexual Relations. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 51:181–190.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Townsend, J. M., and T. Wasserman 1997 The Perception of Sexual Attractiveness: Sex Differences in Variability. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 26:243–268.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. 1998 Sexual Attractiveness: Sex Differences in Assessment and Criteria. Evolution and Human Behavior 19:171–191.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Wetsman, A., and F. Marlowe 1999 How Universal Are Preferences for Female Waist-to-hip Ratios? Evidence from the Hadza of Tanzania. Evolution and Human Behavior 20:219–228.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Zaastra, B. M., J. C. Seidell, P. A. H. Van Noord, E. R. te Velde, J. D. F. Habbema, B. Vrieswijk, and J. Karbaat 1993 Fat and Female Fecundity: Prospective Study of Effect of Body Fat Distribution on Conception Rates. British Medical Journal 306:484–487.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Walter de Gruyter, Inc 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychological SciencesUniversity of Missouri-ColumbiaColumbia
  2. 2.University of SunderlandU.K.

Personalised recommendations