Body attractiveness refers to the perceived aesthetic quality of an individual's body or group of people's bodies as distinguished from their face's attractiveness. Among men, bodily attractiveness is primarily determined by cues related to perceived upper body strength and overall physical vitality, such as broad shoulders, and a lower waist-to-chest ratio. WCR is the circumference of the waist divided by the circumference of the chest; therefore, a lower ratio denotes a larger trunk and a narrower waist, i.e., the classic 'V-taper' torso shape. Muscular arms and a general level of lower body musculature that is not grossly disproportionate to the upper body ('chicken leg syndrome') also appear to play some role in women's judgments of male bodily attractiveness.
Excessive adiposity is not generally preferred, with a reasonably low body fat percentage, and a BMI in the high normal to overweight range (the latter likely indicating a preference for greater muscularity) being associated with greater bodily attractiveness in men. Regarding the lower body musculature, the gluteal muscles are widely reported by women to be the most attractive lower body muscles among males when they are well developed.
In women, signs of youth and nubility such as firm breasts, firm buttocks, overall 'smooth' distribution of subcutaneous fat, and a narrow waist are the factors most strongly associated with overall bodily attractiveness, together with general slimness.
Larger breasts are also generally preferred by men, though firmness is more important in terms of driving attractiveness judgments. Male preferences for the size of female buttocks seem to vary significantly by race and culture. The firmness, shape, and the degree of lumbar curvature possibly play more of role in determining men's attractiveness judgments of female buttocks compared to size, as noted above in regards to breasts.
Determinants of female bodily attractiveness[edit | edit source]
Among women, the main factors that contribute to observer judgements of their bodily attractiveness are factors associated with perceived or actual health, youth, and general fecundity, such as a lower waist-to-hip ratio (WHR, the waist circumference divided by the hip circumference, associated with the classical 'hourglass' body shape), a low BMI (with the general ideal BMI in regards to female attractiveness being very low, well within the 'underweight' range), and large breasts and buttocks that are still proportionate with overall body size. The firmness of the breasts and buttocks (generally negatively associated with age) is also highly valued by men, with breast firmness (being strongly associated with nubility) being found to play more of a role in men's evaluations of the attractiveness of female breasts than raw size.
Though BMI and WHR are linearly correlated with each other (that is, there is a trade-off where an increased WHR is associated with higher levels of body fat in women, and thus a higher BMI, which is generally not seen as ideal in a female partner among men) attractiveness of a woman's body is more determined by a lower BMI than WHR (thinness), and most of the contribution of WHR towards evaluations of female bodily attractiveness is explicable by a smooth distribution of body fat in a gynoid shape on the female body (fat being concentrated around the hips and thighs) being associated with higher attractiveness ratings of female bodies by men, strongly implying that both the distribution and amount of this fat (particularly subcutaneous fat, which is generally thicker in women than men), in so far as this fat contributes to an overall smooth and curvaceous appearance in the woman, is more critical in determining female bodily attractiveness than simple ratios like the WHR.
Besides features like shapely breasts and buttocks, which indicate a mixture of youth and fertility, it seems clear that sheer thinness is a strong predictor of women's body attractiveness, at least in economically developed countries. A 2006 study by Hitsch et al., focusing on dating app usage, found that male online daters ideally preferred women with a BMI of 17. Studies that examine ideal preferences in experimental conditions find similar preferences among men (Wang et al. 2015). Men and women converged very strongly in terms of the ideal BMI they ascribed to women.
Following this point, Brierly et al. (2016) conducted an experimental study where participants of both sexes were prompted to manipulate the muscle and fat content of a series of 3D composite bodies derived from research participants, and stratified by levels of muscle and body fat mass. They found that participants chose different levels of body fat when prompted to create 'healthy' versus 'attractive' female bodies, while this effect was non-significant among the participants who were manipulating male stimuli. The most attractive female bodies chosen were 'at very bottom of the physiologically healthy range' indicating a preference for very thin women overall, which the authors ascribed to the effects of media exposure advocating for a 'thin ideal' or conversely or additionally, an evolutionally derived preference for young women. The discrepancy found among the raters between the ideal healthy and attractive female body may suggest that men often make a trade-off between immediate and long-term reproductive potential when evaluating female bodies, with traits correlating with long-term reproductive potential (thinness) being preferred among 'middle-high socioeconomic groups' as well as denizens of 'more developed and urbanized environments'. Previous research has supported the idea that a low BMI, WHR, and a small waist are all signals of nubility, as they are typically highest in mid-to-late adolescence in women and typically increase in adulthood.
This may further suggest that preferences for 'thicker' women is associated with a faster life history strategy, as a product of more unstable environments, driving a preference for immediate reproductive benefits (such as greater fat stores which provide the ability to weather environmental shocks during pregnancy), while the latter may suggest a preference for women with perceived longer reproductive windows in environments were long-term pair-bonding is more optimal. However, this may also be confounded by male mate value, as it has been found that men who perceive themselves as more attractive prefer women with a lower volume-to-height index, a measure of overall thinness. This was also suggested by the fact that men who preferred a higher VHI in female bodies were more indifferent to female bodies' WHR (waist-to-hip ratio), suggesting lower standards in regards to female body attractiveness among these men. This is the condition dependent mate preferences hypothesis, which suggests that more attractive individuals will tend to prefer partners with corresponding high value phenotypical traits, and this may be a confounding factor in a lot of research that examines individual variance in attractiveness preferences, particularly when it comes to life history theory related partner preferences.
As a note of caution, more recent studies have found there may be a cross-sex mismatch in perceptions when it comes to men's ideal level of thinness. Lei & Perrett utilized a 3D model manipulation design and found that women typically overestimate the level of thinness men prefer in a partner, with moderate to large effect sizes. Talbot & Mahlberg (2021) found evidence for a stronger female ideal for thinness than the level of thinness generally preferred in men. This study also found evidence that participants tend to prefer partners with similar body fat levels to their own, with participants who have higher body fat levels preferring partners with higher body fat levels as well.
Male bodily attractiveness[edit | edit source]
According to two studies examining women's preferences regarding male body types published by the Royal Society in 2017, perceived strength is the strongest indicator of male bodily attractiveness. This single trait has a very high positive correlation (r = 0.8) with women's attractiveness ratings of said male bodies.
The conductors of these studies also found evidence that there exists a linear association between perceived strength (as judged by women) in male bodies and higher ratings of men's bodily attractive attractiveness, with no women in the sample demonstrating a statistically significant preference for weaker men, in contradiction to previous research that maintained this association was curvilinear (that is, women find men with a 'sweet spot' level of formidability to be the most attractive and dislike both very muscular and thin men).
In this study, the relationship between the women's ratings of attractiveness of the men and their actual measured strength was relatively weak, from r = 0.25-.038, depending on the angle of the photo used. This weak correlation suggests, firstly, that ratings of strength are not identical to ratings of attractiveness. Ratings of attractiveness likely capture facets that contribute to ratings of attractiveness but not strength, such as body fat percentage. Secondly, a portion of the perceptions of physical strength are determined by factors that are only weakly related to actual strength. These features could include traits that contribute to the desired male 'v-taper' shape, such as narrow waists and wide clavicles, which are unrelated to actual strength or perhaps even detrimental in some instances (in the case of lower body fat and absolute strength).
An Australian study that utilized scale nude 3D models found that a general mesomorphic body shape (v-taper, low body fat, thin waist) accounted for approximately 80% of the variance in the women's ratings of male bodily attractiveness, as compared to height and absolute penis size (flaccid), which both accounted for about 6% and 5% respectively.  However, one issue with this study (noted by the authors) that may have inflated the amount of variance attributable to bodily attractiveness (among the whole sample) was that the study included male 3D models with extremely wide hips and narrow shoulders. While it is true that many males in industrialized societies are obese (as also noted by the study authors), the male model used in this study that represented the lowest attractiveness male body type had a strong gynoid (female sex-typical) pattern of fat storage and very broad hip bones and narrow clavicles, which is unusual for men (apart from men with chromosomal defects such as Kleinfelter's syndrome), and likely even more unattractive than an obese man with typical hip and shoulder dimensions would be.
Still, this finding supports the claim that waist-to-shoulder, waist-to-chest, and waist-to-hip ratios capture the bulk of male bodily attractiveness. This strong correlation between the v-shaped body further indicates that this type of body shape promotes judgements of physical strength, following the Sell, Lukazweski, and Townsley (2017) study that demonstrated that perceived power highly influences perceptions of body attractiveness, indicating that the gap between perceived and actual strength may be heavily driven by a female preference for aesthetically proportioned male bodies (and not necessarily those with the most sheer bulk) as indicated by the strong influence of the shoulder-to-hip ratio in this study, which is influenced by upper body muscularity, leanness, and a natural frame that is wide in the shoulders and narrow in the hips and waist. This body type may differ from the one associated with maximal brute strength, as a quick glance at heavyweight powerlifters, Olympic lifters in the highest weight class, sumo wrestlers and champion strongmen will indicate. However, these kinds of bodies may be generally more attractive to women than very thin men, as some informal research suggests they are particularly unattractive to women, with women preferring fat men over thin men. This may support the claim that women are determining body attractiveness from perceived strength, as very thin men would be expected to be weak.
Wide clavicles, in particular, represent one sexually dimorphic trait that could have conceivably been subject to Fisherian sexual selection throughout humanities evolutionary past. While women generally find this trait attractive in a male partner (and wide clavicles contribute to the width of one's shoulders exclusive of soft tissue, which is associated with greater physical attractiveness), it seems there is no relationship between clavicle length (concerning the humerus) and throwing ability in men. This lack of a relationship may indicate that this trait is primarily ornamental (not serving a direct adaptive function apart from increasing sexual attractiveness to the opposite sex).
On the other hand, men with wider shoulders tend to be naturally stronger and larger than men with narrower shoulders. Such men also tend to respond much better to strength training programs. Thus, the female preference for men with wider shoulders may indicate a general preference for men with higher levels of upper body strength, which is important for things such as fighting and weapon use more broadly. This preference is balanced out for a preference against men excessively high in body-fat, which makes sense as while these men may have the potential to be higher in raw strength (when they are also muscular), they would also be expected to be generally less physically fit overall.
Regarding the more minor traits associated with male bodily attractiveness, it has been demonstrated that a narrow waist is also considered an attractive trait in males. Interestingly, a lower waist-to-hip ratio is attractive in males (like in women), even when controlling for waist size. Thus, proportionately large hips in males are an undesirable trait.
Body fat percentage[edit | edit source]
There is a common perception that women are generally attracted to features that indicate leanness in men, such as defined abdominal muscles. In contrast to this, the official research on women's preferences shows that while women do prefer lean men, they typically prefer men in the middle of the healthy range of body fat percentage for men (around 14-17%), which is higher than the typical level of body fat needed for such abdominal definition. A general rule of thumb among fitness enthusiasts is that 10% body fat is the level around which most men show clear, defined abdominal muscles without flexing or being in flattering lighting 10% body fat is rather lean, representing the 3rd percentile for males aged 25-29 in the United States as measured by a DXA scan, and 9th percentile for the caliper method that relies on subcutaneous fat.
In contrast to this belief, Brierly et al. (2016) found that Australian women manipulated male bodies to be at around 16% when they were prompted to create the most 'attractive' bodies.
Lei & Perrett replicated this in a sample of British women, finding that they preferred men with body fat percentages of 14.5% and 15% for short & long-term relationships, respectively, a difference that was non-significant. However, this study used less naturalistic 3D morphs than the first. A survey conducted by the fitness site Bony to Beastly also found that women generally preferred men with a low but not extremely lean body fat % as the most attractive (around 13%). This survey also found that women preferred 'skinny-fat' men, or men with a low level of muscle but a proportionately high percentage of body fat, to very thin men, suggesting that women tend to prefer men with some bulk over skinny men even if that bulk derives from fat. Also concerning women's preferences in regards to leanness in men, Wang et al. conducted an analysis of whether there was evidence of assortative preference in regards to the body fat percentage of an ideal partner in raters of both sexes. This sample was cross-cultural, and revealed heterogeneity in women's preferences for male body fat percentage, broken down by their race. This also found that most women of all races preferred leaner, but not super lean men, with 14% of women conforming to the rating pattern that evaluated very lean men (10% body fat). The female raters' BMI played little role in these evaluations, unlike what was discovered in prior research. Very few women preferred obese men. An interesting sidenote here is that Asian women displayed the least heterogeneity with their attractiveness ratings, as the majority of them (82%) conformed to the rating pattern that evaluated men with a moderate (around 15%) but healthy level of body fat as the most attractive.
Overall, the evidence suggests that women find men with body fat percentages in the middle of the healthy range to be most attractive, on average. A small, but still fairly large, minority of women prefer leaner men (close to the ideal of defined abs). A much smaller percentage of women claim not to care much about a man's level of body fat, and an even smaller subset appears to actively prefers obese men.
Ideal ratios[edit | edit source]
In light of the above discussion regarding the influence of ratios such as the shoulder-to-hip (SHR) ratio on male body attractiveness, it may be productive to briefly review the research into what ratios women generally consider ideal in men. Cloud & Perilloux (2015) reviewed 6 other studies that examined the influence of these ratios on women's attractiveness judgements of male bodies. These researchers then instructed 85 women to outline their ideal male body and the outline of a woman that they believed members of the opposite sex find maximally attractive.
Despite this rather crude method of capturing ideal female preferences, it held up well, with the derived bodily ratios corresponding very closely to the ideal ratios extracted from the other 6 studies, which also substantially varied in their metrics and methodology. This suggests these ratios may be quite close to what is generally preferred. The only ratio in this study that substantially varied from other studies was the ideal leg-to-body ratio (ratio of leg length to total height), which may have been caused by the use of ordinal vs. discrete categories in Cloud & Perilloux compared to previous studies, together with the relative lack of research on this topic.
Further, the ideal shoulder-to-hip ratio preferred in this study was also higher than any previous study. In fact, at around 1.45, the ideal SHR in this study was more than 3 standard deviations (3.7 SD) above the weighted mean and pooled SD of the male subjects in Hughes & Gallop (2003) & Dijkstra & Buunk (2001) (1.19 ± 0.07). These two studies both used young university students as subjects, who would therefore be much leaner (and likely more muscular) than the average man, who is much older. The strong preference for an extreme SHR value suggests that women don't have a balanced range of ideal ratios they prefer, but tend to lean towards one specific extreme when it comes to this metric.
|Ideal male body ratios
|WHR (waist-to-hip ratio)
|WCR (waist-to-chest ratio)
|WSR (waist-to-shoulder ratio)
|SHR (shoulder-to-hip ratio)
|LBR (leg-to-body ratio)
Relative contribution of face and body to attractiveness[edit | edit source]
In the incelosphere and elsewhere, there is an often furious debate regarding how much bodily attractiveness contributes to overall physical attractiveness in men, especially compared to the contribution of facial attractiveness to holistic physical attractiveness ratings.
Currie & Little (2009) tested this assertion by presenting photos of the bodies and faces of various individuals to separate raters in randomized order and then together. The pictures were not rated not as a full-body images, so the experimenters could mask the faces to control the potential confounding effects of hair, accessories, and so on regarding ratings of faces. The raters were instructed to evaluate the desirability of these images in the context of both long and short-term relationships. The researchers then presented the whole body photos of the individuals to a distinct group of raters to determine if showing the faces and bodies together in such an unnatural way reduced the validity of the ratings (it was later found it didn't to any significant degree).
They found that, in men, facial attractiveness predicted more of the variance of the ratings of the full-body photographs (β=.427) compared to body ratings (β=.349). However, the effect sizes for both were quite large. Interestingly enough, this study indicated that the relative contributions of bodily and facial attractiveness to holistic physical attractiveness might not be additive. None of the male subjects in this study received a mean total body rating higher than the highest rating received for either their bodily or facial attractiveness.
This likely means that the interaction between facial and bodily attractiveness is highly complex, with minimal thresholds that need to be exceeded for a man to be considered 'attractive' by women. However, both contribute substantially to the variance in women's perceptions of male physical attractiveness. Further, on this point, many lookism theorists claim that working out to increase one's attractiveness to women (which is often dubbed 'gymcelling') is useless if one has a particularly unattractive face. In contrast to this claim, the study's authors found more substantial evidence for an opposite effect, i.e., in some male subjects, their gestalt physical attractiveness was dragged down dramatically when their bodies were relatively unattractive compared to their faces. Conversely, when evaluating women exclusively for short-term relationships, body attractiveness mattered relatively much more to men. The mating context-related primes had less influence on women's evaluations of the relative importance of bodily and facial attractiveness, which were stable across both conditions.
Another study by Sidari et al. (2021), utilizing a speed dating paradigm, examined the relative contributions of bodily and facial attractiveness on the rated physical attractiveness (by their dates) and rejection rates among speed daters of both sexes. They found that bodily attractiveness in men contributed significantly to female ratings of overall attractiveness in men (not just physical attractiveness but truly 'holistic attractiveness,' romantic desirability). They claimed this finding was the first scientific proof of such an effect 'in the field' (not relying on 2D pictures, morphs, or video clips like prior research).
Interestingly, even though one would assume speed dates are a strong example of priming people for short-term mating, the researchers found no sex difference in terms of the contributions of bodily attractiveness to the men's chance of being chosen. However, they did find evidence for sex differences in terms of partner's ratings of their date's desirability (with men valuing both facial and bodily attractiveness more than women in their judgments). This lack of the hypothesized sex difference in preference for short-term mating suggests a disconnect between attractiveness ratings and actual, operationalized mate choices. The sample may have determined the discrepancy in this study that it was utilizing mainly college students, the fact that people calibrate their actual mate choices based on their own perceived mate value (with people perhaps being sometimes less likely to choose particularly desirable partners that they believe will reject them), and the fact that brief blind dates with strangers do not mirror the natural social contexts in which most mate choice takes place.
Finally, Peters et al. (2007) had men and women rate a set of full-body photos. Separate ratings of the face and body of the subjects of these photos were taken from an earlier study by the same authors. Several statistical analyses were performed on the resulting data. A multiple regression analysis (predicting how shifts in the independent variables of face and body influenced the dependent variable of overall physical attractiveness, respectively) had facial attractiveness predicting general PA at β = 0.517. Body attractiveness contributed β = 0.235 to overall PA. In simpler terms, facial features were more dominant in influencing overall attractiveness than body shape in this study. Therefore, this study had a larger effect for face vs. body than Currie & Little (2009) in predicting overall PA among men, but the overall pattern was the same.
The authors also conducted a principal components analysis (PCA) on the relative contributions of face and body to overall attractiveness for men. This analysis revealed that facial and body attractiveness were distinct components for both men and women, indicating that they mainly contribute uniquely to overall attractiveness. The multiple regression also found no significant interaction between facial and body attractiveness in men, and the Pearson correlation coefficient for facial and body attractiveness in men was insignificant (while there was a significant correlation between facial and body attractiveness among female subjects). Therefore, to summarize, male facial and body attractiveness were uncorrelated in this sample. It's worth noting that this first finding contrasts with other studies, such as Hönekopp et al. (2007). This divergence in effect may be due to difference in the two samples. Secondly, face and body both contributed to overall attractiveness, and thirdly, they mostly contributed uniquely to overall attractiveness. This finding is different than the later analyses by Currie & Little (2009), mentioned above, as they did find facial attractiveness and body attractiveness interacted in men, albeit more in the unexpected direction of facial attractiveness being limited by low body attractiveness. One explanation for this would be that, even though independent face and body ratings do not interact, people rate individuals more holistically when they see their entire bodies in a way that can't be simply explained by interaction effects or additive variance. This argument is supported by the fact that Peters et al. found that the correlation between facial and body photos and combined photos was moderate in their sample, explaining less than half of the variance in overall attractiveness (Peters et al., 2007, p. 940). Alternately, there could be a lot of measurement error when one measures the respective contribution of face and body to overall attractiveness, which could explain the limited additive prediction.
Metrics such as the ones listed above can be hard to parse in a manner that sheds light on the key issue of the relevant contribution of facial and body attractiveness to overall physical attractiveness, however. Comparing the respective variances explained by face and body in contributing to overall physical attractiveness can be one method to employ in pursuit of this end. By taking the square root of the ratio between the squared correlations in the above study, we can determine that in Peters et al.'s sample face was 1.8 times as important as body in determining men's overall physical attractiveness. Though the correlation between men's facial attractiveness and their body attractiveness was not significant, when assuming that this result is a fluke and correcting for the correlation between men's face and body attractiveness, we find that the ratio is slightly increased, to face being 1.91 times as important as body for determining overall attractiveness among men.
For the women in Peters et al., when obtaining the partial correlations for facial attractiveness on overall PA & body attractiveness on overall PA, controlling for the significant (r = 0.326) correlation between face and body attractiveness among women, we see that face was only 1.32 times as important as body in determining overall physical attractiveness for the female subjects. This reinforces the general finding that, among men, face is substantially more important in determining holistic physical attractiveness than body attractiveness is compared to what is found with women, which may further indicate that women's overall physical attractiveness is actually more malleable to improvement than men's, contrary to certain views that portray men's physical attractiveness as being highly improvable via bodybuilding. Though it is obvious that enhancing body attractiveness usually involves such steps as lowering body fat and packing on muscle, which may also improve facial attractiveness to a degree. Still, to the degree that body attractiveness in isolation contributes to overall physical attractiveness, the effect seems to be generally stronger for women.
These findings suggest that bodily attractiveness matters quite a bit in determining gestalt physical attractiveness in both sexes, particularly amongst men who evaluate women in the context of them being potential short-term romantic partners. The reasons for this may vary; it could be that bodily attractiveness is more associated with pubertal maturity (and thus fertility) or related to perceptions of greater sexual availability on behalf of men with a primarily short-term mating orientation. In support of the former point, research has indicated that while men generally rate girls who are in the early stages of puberty's facial attractiveness as being higher than adult women's, there is a male tendency towards preferring more pubertally developed girls/adult women when it comes to evaluations of full-body physical attractiveness.
The general male preference for signs of sexual maturity regarding body attractiveness suggests that the development of secondary sexual characteristics is used as a strong cue by men in determining fertility. This preference for signs of fertility could further explain the discrepancy in the relative contributions of female bodily and facial attractiveness by mating context. An alternate (and not mutually exclusive) explanation could be that men are more drawn to bodily attractiveness cues, such as pronounced sexual secondary characteristics (enlarged breasts and buttocks), in short-term mating contexts because these traits are honest signals of immediate sexual availability. That is, the women with these traits may indeed be more sexually promiscuous. Evidence for this assertion, however, is weak and inconsistent.
Contextual factors that affect perceptions of body attractiveness[edit | edit source]
Life history speed[edit | edit source]
There is evidence that men who are pursuing a mating strategy that is predominately centered around attaining casual sexual encounters (fast life history strategists) tend to exhibit a preference for larger breasts, and more sexually restrained men tend to exhibit a preference for relatively smaller breasts, as indicated by the findings Pahoohi et al. which analyzed the effects of various moderating factors on male preferences for breast size, width, and ptosis (2020). These findings indicate that more promiscuous men attend more to signs of fertility, nubility, and sexual ornaments more than facial attractiveness. Alternatively, it could be that sexually promiscuous men, due to their extensive sexual experience, have higher sexual self-esteem and consequently believe they possess high mate value. This higher self-worth likely drives part of their greater preference for women with a trait associated with physical attractiveness (larger breasts). The study mentioned above by Pahoohi et al. did find evidence for such an interaction in this direction.
There is also evidence that suggests that female preference for bodily attractiveness may vary strongly by rater sociosexuality (promiscuity and sexual permissiveness), with women who exhibit more sexually unrestricted attitudes tending to respond more favorably to masculinize men (face and bodies in this particular study), especially in explicitly short-term mating contexts.
Ovulatory shift[edit | edit source]
Differing female preferences in regards to male muscularity are often explained by the controversial ovulatory shift hypothesis. This hypothesis claims that women are driven to seek agreeable providers for long-term relationships and thereafter cuckold them with masculine men when they get the opportunity to do so, as masculine traits are claimed to be markers of 'good genes,' due to the immunosuppressive properties of male sex hormones. Thus the women benefit from the 'good genes' of the masculine man and the resources and paternal care of the cuckolded 'beta provider.' Masculine traits are supposed to be markers of "good genes" as they are claimed to be an honest signal of a robust immune system on behalf of the man who can bear them.
The ovulatory shift hypothesis has fallen into disfavor in academia of late, with claims of "p-hacking," faulty research methodologies, and even outright scientific fraud being levied at prominent proponents of the hypothesis, though some have attempted to rehabilitate it based on weak evidence of small cycle shifts in female preference in terms of women's preferred level of muscularity of a male partner across their menstrual cycle.
The combination of the findings above suggests that if any cycle shifts in terms of a greater female preference for muscular men during their menstrual cycle are legitimate, it may be simply explicable by the fact that both sociosexuality and libido have been demonstrated in some studies to increase prior to ovulation.
One could speculate on the basis of this data that a heightened female preference for more masculine bodies during their cycle could be not necessarily due to women being adapted to cuckold their male partners. These (weak, if they do prove to be robust) shifts in preference may simply be reflective of greater female horniness shifting their mate preferences away from signals of provision, caregiving capability, etc., to traits that to which they are strongly physically attracted, as faster life history strategy women seem to do. There is also evidence that suggests that women are typically choosier in regards to looks when considering short-term mating exclusively, ergo, it naturally follows they would prefer better looking (more muscular men) when primed for short-term relationships. Women also seem more likely to orgasm with physically attractive and masculine men, and seem to be more satisfied and experience less guilt from casual sexual encounters that result in a high level of sexual satisfaction (ending in orgasm), so these could be yet more reasons for women to seek out more morphologically masculine and attractive men when they are exclusively considering 'hook-ups' as opposed to relationships with more investment.
Paternal investment[edit | edit source]
One other factor that may affect women's preferences for the level of bodily attractiveness in regards to their actual mate choices (as opposed to ideal preferences) is a desire for paternal investment. In support of this idea, Provost et al. (2006) discovered that more sociosexually restricted women were much more likely to rate less physically masculine men as being more attractive long-term partners. This finding suggests that long-term mating-oriented (or slower life history strategy) women are (either deliberately or subconsciously) trading off attractive traits in return for partner qualities that indicate the willingness to invest and commit when seeking long-term partners.
This drive of women to maximize investment in long-term relationships may be one of the reasons why the effects of greater male bodily masculinity, while clearly highly desirable to women, are reasonably small outside of specific contexts where promiscuity is common or expected (such as college campuses, which typically show larger positive effects for male muscularity). As women tend towards being more sociosexually restricted than men, cross-culturally, are more likely to express negative emotions in response to casual sex (though causality is not clear here), and sometimes even engage in casual sex expressively to get investment from more promiscuous males, it could be that attractive men, particularly attractive men that are high in phenotypic masculine traits, are naturally constrained to some extent in their ability to engage in casual sex with a large number of women by women's natural desire to generally maximize investment from male romantic partners.
The women in question (especially the ones of lower mate value) seem to be sometimes engaging in a 'trade-off' of sorts where they forgo attractive and masculine traits in return for traits that they believe signal investment and the man's willingness to provide for the potential offspring of these relationships and even their ability to engage in direct paternal care. Both traits have been (and still are) associated with greater quality offspring resulting from relationships with such men and higher reproductive success among their female partners.
Suppose women are indeed deliberately seeking less attractive or less masculine men out as good long-term relationship prospects. In that case, it is unclear how effective this strategy would actually be. Certain markers of phenotypic femininity seem to be linked to promiscuity in males (as measured by both attitudes toward casual sex or actual engagement in sexual promiscuity), and the general body of research into the effects of a lower sex ratio (more women, fewer men) on mating behaviors suggests that men with a surfeit of romantic options tend to engage in a low-investment sexual strategy centered around maximizing sexual variety. Thus, there seems to be a balancing act at play here among the women pursuing such a strategy, as men selected explicitly for their supposed propensity to invest may be subject to greater attention from rival women seeking the same traits (due to pre-selection by women and their possessing desired traits), thus tempting them to stray. Men perceived as more trustworthy, either due to their behavior, demeanor, or appearance, may also be subject to less scrutiny from their female partners in terms of the women's mate-guarding efforts.
Relation of stature to body attractiveness[edit | edit source]
Among both sexes, per the male-taller 'norm,' an individual rater's height will be expected to moderate any positive effect of stature on mating outcomes, i.e., people will have a strong bias to prefer pairs where the man is taller than the women.
However, despite the male taller norm, there is research that indicates that taller stature is seen as a desirable trait in both sexes to some degree when revealed and not self-reported preferences are considered.
This interesting finding could be due to an above-average leg length in proportion to the trunk being a desired trait in both sexes, but particularly in females. Longer legs are generally associated with greater height. Anecdotal observations of the bodily proportions of female fashion models and the recruitment standards of several modeling agencies do suggest that female models, largely chosen for their physical attractiveness, tend to be both tall and slender with a brachyskelic or hyperbrachyskelic body structure (the legs being proportionately much longer than the trunk).
There could also be an innate effect of stature on female attractiveness, or there could even be a direct correlation between female facial attractiveness and height. This study didn't present sufficient evidence of any of this, though. The authors only offered evidence of a significant effect of height on speed dating desirability for women that was not significantly different from the effect found for men in the model.
See also[edit | edit source]
References[edit | edit source]
- Scientific Blackpill#The most attractive BMI range for men is .7E24.5-27 and for women .7E17-19 as it is most youthful
- Kościński K. 2019. Breast firmness is of greater importance for women's attractiveness than breast size. American Journal of Human Biology, 31(5), e23287. [Abstract]
- https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1090513806000754 p. 108