Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science

Living Edition
| Editors: Todd K. Shackelford, Viviana A. Weekes-Shackelford

Evolutionary Standards of Female Attractiveness

Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-16999-6_4-1



Aspects of female appearance that are linked to perceived attractiveness and/or biologically relevant information.


Homo sapiens is the product of an evolutionary process. Evolutionary constraints shaped our bodies, perception, cognition, preferences, and behavior. The thus evolved characteristics are still present today. From a biological viewpoint, the ability to promote the own genetic information is central. This is why cues that are linked to reproductive potential are perceived as attractive.

Preferences for attractive features can be observed from early stages in life: Babies aged 2–6 months look longer at attractive faces. This “attractivism” continues to affect our lives favoring attractive people in various contexts. Attractive pupils get better evaluations than their less attractive peers; the same holds true for students at University. In professional life, attractive people are more likely to be offered a job and higher...


Fluctuate Asymmetry Facial Shape Directional Asymmetry Facial Attractiveness Body Odor 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Cunningham, M. R. (1986). Measuring the physical in physical attractiveness: Quasi-experiments on the sociobiology of female facial beauty. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 50(5), 925–935.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Grammer, K., Fink, B., Juette, A., Ronzal, G., & Thornhill, R. (2001). Female faces and bodies: N-dimensional feature space and attractiveness. In G. Rhodes & L. Zebrobwitz (Eds.), Advances in visual cognition (Facial attractiveness, Vol. I, pp. 91–125). Westport: Ablex Publishing.Google Scholar
  3. Hamermesh, D. S. (2011). Beauty pays. Why attractive people are more successful. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Jones, D., Brace, C. L., Jankowiak, W., Laland, K. N., Musselman, L. E., Langlois, J. H., Roggman, L. A., Pérusse, D., Schweder, B., & Symons, D. (1995). Sexual selection, physical attractiveness, and facial neoteny: cross-cultural evidence and implications. Current Anthropology, 36(5), 723–748.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Oberzaucher, E., Schmehl, S., Holzleitner, I., Katina, S., Mehu-Blantar, I., & Grammer, K. (2012). The myth of hidden ovulation? Shape and texture changes in the face during the female cycle. Journal of Evolutionary Psychology, 10, 163–175.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Pflüger, L. S., Oberzaucher, E., Katina, S., Holzleitner, I. J., & Grammer, K. (2012). Cues to fertility: Perceived attractiveness and facial shape predict reproductive success. Evolution and Human Behavior, 33(6), 708–714.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Rikowski, A., & Grammer, K. (1999). Human body odour, symmetry and attractiveness. Proceedings of the Royal Society London B, 266, 869874.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 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.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Thornhill, R., & Gangestad, S. W. (1993). Human facial beauty. Human Nature, 4(3), 237–269.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of ViennaViennaAustria