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Female physical attractiveness in Britain and Malaysia: a cross-cultural study

Swami, Viren and Tovee, Martin J. (2005) Female physical attractiveness in Britain and Malaysia: a cross-cultural study. Body Image, 2 (2). pp. 115-128. ISSN 1740-1445

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bodyim.2005.02.002

Abstract

Two purported cues to perceived female physical attractiveness are body mass index (BMI) and body shape as measured by the waist-to-hip ratio (WHR). This study examined the relative contribution of both cues in several culturally socio-economically distinct populations. Six hundred and eighty-two participants from Britain and Malaysia were asked to rate a set of images of real women with known BMI and WHR. The results showed that BMI is the primary determinant of female physical attractiveness, whereas WHR failed to emerge as a significant predictor. The results also showed that there were significant differences in preferences for physical attractiveness along a gradient of socio-economic development, with urban participants preferring images of women with significantly lower BMIs than their rural counterparts. The findings are discussed in terms of evolutionary psychological explanations of mate selection, and sociocultural theory, which emphasises the learning of preferences for body sizes in social and cultural contexts.

Item Type:Article
Research Community:University of Westminster > Social Sciences, Humanities and Languages, School of
ID Code:4509
Deposited On:30 Oct 2007
Last Modified:05 Nov 2009 12:39

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