Sex Roles

, Volume 39, Issue 3–4, pp 311–326

The Role of Body Weight, Waist-to-Hip Ratio, and Breast Size in Judgments of Female Attractiveness

  • Adrian Furnham
  • Melanie Dias
  • Alastair McClelland
Article

Abstract

It was demonstrated by Singh and Young (1995)that morphological features such as overall body fatdistribution measured by waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) andbreast size, influence judgments of femaleattractiveness, age, and desirability for relationships. Thepresent study was a replication and extension of thatresearch, using both male and female participants. Theresults supported the general findings of the original study, and as predicted, the effect of breastsize on attractiveness judgments depended on overallbody fat and WHR. The significance of interactionswithin the different morphological features whichdetermine female attractiveness were noted. Overall,there were surprisingly few sex differences. Results arediscussed in terms of the socio-biological theoriescurrently popular in the literature.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

REFERENCES

  1. Anderson, J. L., Crawford, C. B., Nadeau, J., & Lindberg, T. (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.Google Scholar
  2. Brown, P. J., & Konner, M. (1987). An anthropological perspective of obesity. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 499, 29–46.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Buss, D. M. (1994). The evolution of desire: Strategies of human mating. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  4. Buss, D. M. (1995). Evolutionary psychology: A new paradigm for psychological science. Psychological Inquiry, 6, 1–30.Google Scholar
  5. Buss, D. M., & Schmitt, D. M. (1993). Sexual strategies theory: An evolutionary perspective on human mating. Psychological Review, 100, 204–232.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Bjorntorp, P. (1987). Fat cell distribution and metabolism. In R. J. Wurtman & J. J. Wurtman (Eds.), Human obesity. New York Academy of Sciences.Google Scholar
  7. Cant, J. G. H. (1981). Hypothesis for the evolution of human breasts and buttocks. American Naturalist, 117, 199–204.Google Scholar
  8. Cunningham, M. R., Roberts, A. R., Wu, C. H., Barbee, A. P., & Druen, P. B. (1995). “Their ideas of beauty are, on the whole, the same as ours.” Consistency and variability in the cross-cultural perception of female physical attractiveness. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 68, 261–279.Google Scholar
  9. DeRidder, C. M., Bruning, P. F., Zonderland, M. L., Thijssen, J. H. H., Bonfrer, J. M. G., Blankenstein, M. A., Huisveld, L. A., & Erich, W. B. M. (1990). Body fat mass distribution, and plasma hormones in early puberty in females. Journal of clinical Endocrinological and Metabolism, 70, 888–893.Google Scholar
  10. Dermer, M., & Thiel, D. I. (1975). When beauty may fail. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 31, 1168–1176.Google Scholar
  11. Fallon, A. E., & Rozin, P. (1985). Sex differences in perceptions of desirable body shape. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 94, 102–105.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Fisher, H. E. (1992). Anatomy of love. New York: Norton.Google Scholar
  13. Folsom, A. R., Kaye, S. A., Sellers, T. A., Hong, C., Cerhan, J. R., Potter, J. D., & Prineas, R. J. (1993). Body fat distribution and 5-year risk of death in older women. Journal of the American Medical Association, 269, 483–487.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Frisch, R. E. (1990). Body fat, menarche, fitness and fertility. In R. E. Frisch (Ed.), Adipose tissue and reproduction. Basil: Harger.Google Scholar
  15. Frisch, R. E., & McArthur, J. W. (1974). Menstrual cycles: fatness as a determinant of minimum weight for height necessary for their maintenance. Science, 185, 548–556.Google Scholar
  16. Furnham, A., & Alibhai, N. (1983). Cross-cultural differences in the perception of female body shapes. Psychological Medicine, 13, 829–837.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Furnham, A., & Greaves, N. (1994). Gender and locus of control correlates of body image dissatisfaction. European Journal of Personality, 8, 183–200.Google Scholar
  18. Furnham, A., Hester, C., & Weir, C. (1990). Sex difference in preference for specific female body shapes. Sex Roles, 22, 743–754.Google Scholar
  19. Furnham, A., Tan, T., & McManus, C. (1997). Waist-to-hip ratio and preferences for body shape: A replication and extension. Personality and Individual Differences, 22, 539–549.Google Scholar
  20. Garner, D., Garfinkel, P., Stancer, H., & Moldofsky, H. (1976). Body image disturbances in anorexia nervosa and obesity. Psychological Medicine, 38, 327–336.Google Scholar
  21. Gitter, A., Lomranz, J., Saxe, L., & Bar-Tal, D. (1983). Perception of female physique characteristics by American and Israeli students. Journal of Social Psychology, 121, 7–13.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. Harris, M., & Smith, S. (1982). Beliefs about obesity. Effects of age, ethnicity, sex and weight. Psychological Representations, 51, 1047–1055.Google Scholar
  23. Henss, R. (1992). “Spieglein, speiglein an der Wand...” Geschlecht, Alter und physische Attrakitivat. (“Mirror, mirror on the wall...” Sex, age and physical attractiveness). Weinheim, Germany: Psychologie Verlags Union.Google Scholar
  24. Henss, R. (1995). Waist-to-hip ratio and attractiveness. Replication and extension. Personality and Individual Differences, 19, 479–488.Google Scholar
  25. Kleinke, C., & Staneski, R. (1980). First impressions of female bust size. Journal of Social Psychology, 110, 123–134.Google Scholar
  26. Kenrick, D. T. (1989). Bridging social psychology and sociobiology: The case of sexual attraction. In R. W. Bell & N. J. Bell (Eds.), Sociobiology and social sciences. Lubbock: Texas Tech University Press.Google Scholar
  27. Kirchengast, S. (1993a). Body shape and sex hormone levels in fertile and post-menopausal women from Austria. Homo, 44, 145–167.Google Scholar
  28. Kirchengast, S. (1993b). Anthropometric-hormonal correlation patterns in fertile and post-menopausal Austria. Annals of Human Biology, 20, 47–65.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  29. Lerner, R., & Gellent, E. (1969). Body build identification, preference, and aversion in children. Developmental Psychology, 1, 456–462.Google Scholar
  30. Low, B. S. (1979). Sexual selection and human ornamentation. In N. A. Chagnon & W. Irons (Eds.), Evolutionary biology and human social behaviour, North Scituate, MA: Duxbury.Google Scholar
  31. Mintz, L. B., & Betz, N. E. (1986). Sex differences in nature, realism and correlates of body image. Sex Roles, 15, 185–195.Google Scholar
  32. Morris, A., Cooper, T., & Cooper, P. J. (1989). The changing shape of the female fashion model. International Journal of Eating disorders, 8, 593–596.Google Scholar
  33. Morris, D. (1967). The naked ape. New York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  34. National Academy of Sciences. (1991). Diet and health. Washington DC: National Academy of Sciences Press.Google Scholar
  35. Schultz, A. H. (1969). The life of primates. New York: University Books.Google Scholar
  36. Seidell, J. C. (1992). Regional obesity and health. International Journal of Obesity, 16(Supplement 2), 531–534.Google Scholar
  37. Singh, D. (1993a). Adaptive significance of female physical attractiveness: Role of the waist-to-hip ratio. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 65, 293–307.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  38. Singh, D. (1993b). Body shape and women's attractiveness. The critical role of waist-to-hip ratio. Human Nature, 4, 297–321.Google Scholar
  39. Singh, D. (1994). Is thin really beautiful and good? Relationship between waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) and female attractiveness. Personality and Individual Differences, 16, 123–132.Google Scholar
  40. Singh, D., & Luis, S. (1995). Ethnic and gender consensus for the effect of waist-to-hip ratio on judgments of women's attractiveness. Human Nature, 6, 51–65.Google Scholar
  41. Singh, D., & Young, R. K. (1995). Body weight, waist-to-hip ratio, breasts, and hips: Role in judgments of female attractiveness and desirability for relationships. Ethology and Sociobiology, 16, 483–507.Google Scholar
  42. Stunkard, A. (1977). Obesity and the social environment: current status, future prospects. Proceedings of the New York Academy of Science, 300, 298–320.Google Scholar
  43. Symons, D. (1979). The evolution of human sexuality. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  44. Tucker, L. (1985). Dimensionality and factor satisfaction of the body image construct: A gender comparison. Sex Roles, 12, 931–937.Google Scholar
  45. Vague, J. (1956). The degree of masculine differentiation of obesities: A factor-determining predisposition to diabetes, atherosclerosis, gout and uric calculus disease. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 4, 20–34.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  46. Wallace, A. R. (1889). Darwinism (2nd ed.). London: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  47. Worsley, A. (1981a). Teenagers perceptions of fat and slim people. International Journal of Obesity, 5, 15–24.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  48. Worsley, A. (1981b). In the eye of the beholder: Social and personal character, teenagers and their impressions of themselves and fat and slim people. Medical Psychology, 54, 231–242.Google Scholar
  49. Zaastra, B. M., Seidell, J. C., Van Noord, P. A. H., te Velde, E. R., Habbten, F., Vrieswijk, B., & Karbaat, J. (1993). fat and female fecundity: Prospective of effect of body fat distribution on conception rates. British Medical Journal, 306, 484–487.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  50. Zebrowitz, L. A., Montepare, J. M., & Lee, H. K. (1993). They don't look. Individuated impressions of other racial groups. Journal of Personal and social Psychology, 65, 85–101.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Adrian Furnham
  • Melanie Dias
  • Alastair McClelland

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations