Effects of Breast Size, Intermammary Cleft Distance (Cleavage) and Ptosis on Perceived Attractiveness, Health, Fertility and Age: Do Life History, Self-Perceived Mate Value and Sexism Attitude Play a Role?

Abstract

Unlike other mammals, human females have evolved so that their breasts remain enlarged. Previous research has related the size and shape of women’s breasts with women’s reproductive potential and attractiveness.

Objective

To provide a more complete picture of these issues, the current study extended previous research by investigating the effects of breast size, intermammary cleft distance, and ptosis on perceived attractiveness, health, fertility, and age while also measuring individual differences in life history, self-perceived mate value, and sexism.

Method

Participants (men and women) viewed images of women’s breasts that were manipulated for size, ptosis, and intermammary cleft; and participants rated the breasts for their perceived attractiveness, fertility, health, and age.

Results

Results showed that the perception of attractiveness, fertility, health, and age were influenced by size, cleft distance, ptosis, and hostile sexism. Individual differences in life history and self-perceived mate value also influenced preferences.

Conclusion

Our results show that perceived attractiveness of breasts is associated with perceptions of fertility, health, and age. The findings from the current study represent an important step toward achieving a comprehensive account on how women’s breasts influence perception on traits associated with mate preferences, fertility, and reproductive value.

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Correspondence to Farid Pazhoohi.

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All participants consented to taking part in the study. The experiment was approved by the Ethical Committee of the University of British Columbia and was conducted in accordance with the Declaration of Helsinki as it pertains to research with human participants.

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Pazhoohi, F., Garza, R. & Kingstone, A. Effects of Breast Size, Intermammary Cleft Distance (Cleavage) and Ptosis on Perceived Attractiveness, Health, Fertility and Age: Do Life History, Self-Perceived Mate Value and Sexism Attitude Play a Role?. Adaptive Human Behavior and Physiology 6, 75–92 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40750-020-00129-1

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Keywords

  • Breasts
  • attractiveness
  • mate selection
  • Life history theory
  • Ptosis