Male and female perception of physical attractiveness: An eye movement study

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Evolutionary Psychology


Waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) and breast size are morphological traits that are associated with female attractiveness. Previous studies using line drawings of women have shown that men across cultures rate low WHRs (0.6 and 0.7) as most attractive. In this study, we used additional viewing measurements (i.e., first fixation duration and visual regressions) to measure visual attention and record how long participants first focused on the female body and whether they regressed back to an area of interest. Additionally, we manipulated skin tone to determine whether they preferred light- or dark-skinned women. In two eye tracking experiments, participants rated the attractiveness of female nude images varying in WHR (0.5-0.9), breast size, and skin tone. We measured first fixation duration, gaze duration, and total time. The overall results of both studies revealed that visual attention fell mostly on the face, the breasts, and the midriff of the female body, supporting the evolutionary view that reproductively relevant regions of the female body are important to female attractiveness. Because the stimuli varied in skin tone and the participants were mainly Hispanic of Mexican American descent, the findings from these studies also support a preference for low WHRs and reproductively relevant regions of the female body.



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