Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Clues To Mysteries Of Physical Attractiveness Revealed

Date:
May 24, 2007
Source:
Texas A&M University
Summary:
Score one for body language: It seems that body shape and the way people walk hold major cues to their attractiveness to others, according to new research. The attractiveness ratings for perceived women increased by about 50 percent when they walked with hip sway, and attractiveness ratings for perceived men more than doubled when they walked with a swagger in their shoulders.

Score one for body language: It seems that body shape and the way people walk hold major cues to their attractiveness to others, according to collaborative research findings published by Texas A&M University professor Louis G. Tassinary and co-author Kerri Johnson of New York University.

"People have always tried to identify the magical formula for beauty, and we knew body shape was important, but we found movement was also key," Johnson says.

“When encountering another human, the first judgment an individual makes concerns the other individual’s gender,” Johnson explains. “The body’s shape, specifically the waist-to-hip ratio, has been related to gender identification and to perceived attractiveness, but part of the way we make such judgments is by determining whether the observed individual is behaving in ways consistent with our culture’s definitions of beauty and of masculinity/femininity. And part of those cultural definitions involves movement.”

“It turns out that decisions about a particular individual’s attractiveness are high level ones which integrate an entire complex of cues, one of which, again, involves how the individual moves.”

The findings reflect the views of over 700 individuals who participated in a series of five studies, three of which involved animated representations of people walking. The attractiveness ratings for perceived women increased by about 50 percent when they walked with hip sway, and attractiveness ratings for perceived men more than doubled when they walked with a swagger in their shoulders.

Tassinary, a College of Architecture professor who holds a law degree and a doctorate in psychology, first became interested in visual cues to human attractiveness when he realized he was unsettled by a popular 1990s take on the subject – that female physical attractiveness depends primarily on the ratio between an individual’s hips and waist. According to this line of thinking, waist-to-hip ratios greater than the “ideal” (approximately .7) portend that a female will be perceived necessarily as less attractive.

This early research used simple line drawings, asking study subjects to rate figures as to attractiveness and was supported by evolutionary arguments – that is, that females with certain waist-to-hip ratios were more fecund than others and were therefore perceived to be more attractive.

In collaboration with former Texas A&M professor Wendy Wood, and current Texas A&M professor Mardelle Shepley, Tassinary and Kristi Hansen, then working on her master’s degree in architecture, demonstrated in the late 90’s that the linkage between the waist-to-hip and perceived attractiveness was likely an artifact due to the commonly used line-drawn stimuli. Tassinary then worked with Mitsitoshi Higa, then a master’s degree student in visualization at the college, to develop more dynamic, animated figures to use in experiments on perceived attractiveness.

These early efforts opened up a fruitful line of inquiry, Tassinary says. “Using our more dynamic figures, it became clear to us that the waist-to-hip ratio is just one cue to perceived attractiveness. Because attractiveness generally is both complex and multidimensional, Kerri and I designed this current line of research to broaden the scope of inquiry.”

Knowing the cognitive mechanisms undergirding the relations between judgments of attractiveness and body cues is essential to understanding human evolution, Tassinary notes. For example, physical manifestations of “femaleness” differ across cultures. Western cultures may favor a smaller waist-to-hip ratio (the “hourglass” figure), while certain non-Western cultures have been found that favor a larger ratio (the “tubular” figure).

Not only has the research proved fruitful and significant, but it is a model for collaboration in the academic realm, Tassinary notes. Johnson was once his student, earning her master’s at Texas A&M while the two worked together on earlier projects, and their collaboration has continued since Johnson received her doctorate from Cornell University.

“The current findings bolster our understanding of how and why the body is perceived attractive,” Johnson notes. “Body cues bring about the basic social perception of sex and gender, and the compatibility of those basic precepts affects perceived attractiveness.”

Tassinary notes that such research also may shed light on continued inquiry into human evolution and may be applicable to the inanimate world as well.

“We appear to effortlessly judge the aesthetics of both landscapes and buildings – it is certainly possible that the same evolved cognitive mechanisms are operative whether we judge a person to be attractive or a landscape to be beautiful.”

Titled “Compatibility of Basic Social Perceptions Determines Perceived Attractiveness,” their article was published in the most recent issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a peer-reviewed publication of the National Academy of Sciences.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Texas A&M University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Texas A&M University. "Clues To Mysteries Of Physical Attractiveness Revealed." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 May 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/05/070523105948.htm>.
Texas A&M University. (2007, May 24). Clues To Mysteries Of Physical Attractiveness Revealed. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/05/070523105948.htm
Texas A&M University. "Clues To Mysteries Of Physical Attractiveness Revealed." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/05/070523105948.htm (accessed October 20, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Monday, October 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Court Ruling Means Kids' Online Activity Could Be On Parents

Court Ruling Means Kids' Online Activity Could Be On Parents

Newsy (Oct. 17, 2014) In a ruling attorneys for both sides agreed was a first of its kind, a Georgia appeals court said parents can be held liable for what kids put online. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Best Foods To Boost Your Mood

The Best Foods To Boost Your Mood

Buzz60 (Oct. 17, 2014) Feeling down? Reach for the refrigerator, not the medicine cabinet! TC Newman (@PurpleTCNewman) shares some of the best foods to boost your mood. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
You Can Get Addicted To Google Glass, Apparently

You Can Get Addicted To Google Glass, Apparently

Newsy (Oct. 15, 2014) Researchers claim they’ve diagnosed the first example of the disorder in a 31-year-old U.S. Navy serviceman. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
First Confirmed Case Of Google Glass Addiction

First Confirmed Case Of Google Glass Addiction

Buzz60 (Oct. 15, 2014) A Google Glass user was treated for Internet Addiction Disorder caused from overuse of the device. Morgan Manousos (@MorganManousos) has the details on how many hours he spent wearing the glasses, and what his symptoms were. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins