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Rapid judgment of aesthetically pleasing waist-hip proportions in women

Achim Schützwohl reported the results of a study that exposed men to line drawings of women, in pairs, with front-view waist-to-hip ratios of either 0.5, 0.7 or 0.9, varied by altering waist size.  Each pair of images was shown for a duration of 1.25 seconds, and the male participants were asked to judge the figures for attractiveness, fecundity, health and pregnancy status.  A shortcoming of the study was using the crude line drawings originally used by Devendra Singh, previously discussed in an entry addressing various confounds related to waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) and attractiveness in women.  Another shortcoming was not using more subtle variation of WHR.

Of the three WHRs, the WHR of 0.7 was rated as most attractive, which, given the study limitations, is not to say that this is the most aesthetically pleasing female WHR in Western societies.  The study also showed that men judged the figure with a 0.7 WHR most rapidly.


Achim Schützwohl. Judging female figures: A new methodological approach to male attractiveness judgments of female waist-to-hip ratio. Biological Psychology, Volume 71, Issue 2, February 2006, Pages 223-229. (zip)

Abstract: The procedure in previous research on attractiveness judgments of female waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) presumably supported an elaborate, effortful and deliberate decision process. In contrast, motivated by evolutionary psychological considerations about the psychological mechanism underlying attractiveness judgments of female WHR, the present study differed from previous research inasmuch as: (a) the participants were uninformed in advance about the various female figures; (b) the exposure time of the female figures was very brief; (c) trials were presented in rapid succession; (d) the participants were instructed to judge spontaneously; (e) forced-choice preference judgments and their underlying judgment times were registered. The results confirmed previous research that men prefer a normal weight figure with a .7 WHR. Additionally, judgments in favor of this figure were made most rapidly. Finally, attractiveness judgments and judgment times were found to be more closely related to those for health than for fecundity or pregnancy judgments.