Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 32, Issue 1, pp 29–39 | Cite as

Masculine Somatotype and Hirsuteness as Determinants of Sexual Attractiveness to Women

  • Alan F. DixsonEmail author
  • Gayle Halliwell
  • Rebecca East
  • Praveen Wignarajah
  • Matthew J. Anderson


Five questionnaire studies asked women to rate the attractiveness of outline drawings of male figures that varied in somatotype, body proportions, symmetry, and in distribution of trunk hair. In Study 1, back-posed figures of mesomorphic (muscular) somatotypes were rated as most attractive, followed by average, ectomorphic (slim), and endomorphic (heavily built) figures by both British and Sri Lankan women. In Study 2, computer morphing of somatotypes to produce an intergraded series resulted in a graded response in terms of perceived attractiveness which mirrored the findings of Study 1. In Study 3, back-posed figures were manipulated in order to change waist-to-hip ratios (WHR) and waist-to-shoulder ratios (WSR). A WHR of 0.8–0.9 and a WSR of 0.6 were rated as most attractive and these effects were more pronounced when modeling mesomorphic figures. In Study 4, symmetric figures of a mesomorphic somatotype were rated as less attractive than a normal (asymmetric) version of the same man. Study 5 showed that presence of trunk hair had a marked, positive effect upon women's ratings of attractiveness for both mesomorphic and endomorphic male figures. Women also judged figures with trunk hair as being older and they consistently rated endomorphic figures as being older than mesomorphs. These results are consistent with effects of sexual selection upon visual signals that advertise health, physical prowess, age, and underlying endocrine condition in the human male.

somatotype human male sexual attractiveness sexual selection evolution 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alan F. Dixson
    • 1
    Email author
  • Gayle Halliwell
    • 2
  • Rebecca East
    • 2
  • Praveen Wignarajah
    • 3
  • Matthew J. Anderson
    • 1
  1. 1.Center for the Reproduction of Endangered SpeciesZoological Society of San DiegoSan Diego
  2. 2.Department of Veterinary MedicineUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeEngland
  3. 3.Department of ZoologyUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeEngland

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