Physical characteristics, such as a V-shaped torso and body hair, are visually salient information that reflect a potential mate’s immunocompetence, status, and reproductive potential (Dixson et al. 2014; Singh 1994), and are thus often desired by women. Recently, the use of eye tracking in attraction research has demonstrated that visual patterns are behavioral indices of interest in a potential mate. Two studies investigated women’s visual perception of men’s attractiveness across different phases of the menstrual cycle (i.e., low vs. high fertility) while manipulating hair distribution across waist to chest ratios. In study 1 (N = 83), men with low (0.7) waist to chest ratios were rated as more attractive, and women focused most of their visual attention to the upper region of the body (i.e., head and midriff). There were no differences in visual attention as a function of fertility status. Study 2 (N = 53) replicated the findings from study 1 and found support for visual differences across the menstrual cycle using progesterone. Women viewed the head region (i.e., face) longer and took more time viewing men in general during the fertile phase of their menstrual cycle (low progesterone) compared to the nonfertile phase (high progesterone). Study 2 also showed that visual attention to the head and chest region was influenced by short-term mating orientation. The findings add to the existing literature on visual attention and attraction, and they contribute new findings in determining differences in visual perception across the menstrual cycle and mating orientation in women.
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Garza, R., Byrd-Craven, J. Fertility Status in Visual Processing of Men’s Attractiveness. Evolutionary Psychological Science 5, 328–342 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40806-019-00190-4
- Mate preferences
- Fertility status