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Waist-to-Hip Ratio as Supernormal Stimuli: Effect of Contrapposto Pose and Viewing Angle

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In women, the waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) is an indicator of attractiveness, health, youthfulness, and reproductive potential. In the current study, we hypothesized that viewing angle and body postures influence the attractiveness of these forms based on the view dependency of WHR stimuli (vdWHR). Using eye tracking, we quantified the number of fixations and dwell time on 3D images of a female avatar in two different poses (standing and contrapposto) from eight viewing angles incrementing in 45 degrees of rotation. A total of 68 heterosexual individuals (25 men and 43 women) participated in the study. Results showed that the contrapposto pose was perceived as more attractive than the standing pose and that lower vdWHR sides of the stimuli attracted more first fixation, total fixations, and dwell time. Overall, the results supported that WHR is view-dependent and vdWHRs lower than optimal WHRs are supernormal stimuli that may generate peak shifts in responding. Results are discussed in terms of the attractiveness of women’s movements (gaits and dance) and augmented artistic presentations.

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FP receives funding from FCT Portugal through grant PD/BD/114366/2016; AM receives funding from FCT Portugal through grants PTDC/DTP-EPI/0412/2012 and PEST-C/FIS/UI607/2011; JA receives funding from FCT Portugal through grants PTDC/MHC-PCN/4589/2012 and IF/01298/2014.

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Correspondence to Farid Pazhoohi.

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All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

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Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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Pazhoohi, F., Macedo, A.F., Doyle, J.F. et al. Waist-to-Hip Ratio as Supernormal Stimuli: Effect of Contrapposto Pose and Viewing Angle. Arch Sex Behav 49, 837–847 (2020).

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