An Evolutionary Perspective on Male Preferences for Female Body Shape

  • Isabel Scott
  • Gillian R. Bentley
  • Martin J. Tovée
  • Farid Uddin Ahamed
  • Kesson Magid


Cross-culturally, humans make systematic use of physical attractiveness to discriminate among members of the opposite sex, and physical cues to youth, health, and fertility may be particularly important to men (Buss, 1989). Nevertheless, there is controversy over whether attraction preferences are adaptive, particularly in novel environments, and whether they are universal or flexible depending on cultural circumstances (Singh & Luis, 1995). To date, a good deal of research into somatic (i.e., body) attractiveness has focused on two particular characteristics: waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) and the body mass index (BMI). WHR is calculated as the circumference of the waist divided by circumference of the hips, and provides an index of a woman’s ‘curvaceousness.’ BMI is calculated as an individual’s weight (kilogrammes) divided by height (metres) squared, and provides an estimate of body fatness.


High Body Mass Index Obese Woman Body Shape Male Preference Attractiveness Rating 
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Copyright information

© Isabel Scott, Gillian R. Bentley, Martin J. Tovée, Farid Uddin Ahamed, and Kesson Magid 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Isabel Scott
    • 1
  • Gillian R. Bentley
    • 2
  • Martin J. Tovée
    • 3
  • Farid Uddin Ahamed
    • 4
  • Kesson Magid
    • 5
  1. 1.Bristol UniversityUK
  2. 2.Durham UniversityUK
  3. 3.Experimental Psychology DepartmentCambridge UniversityUK
  4. 4.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of ChittagongBangladesh
  5. 5.Department of AnthropologyUniversity College LondonUK

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