Monday, February 1, 2016

Mapping Female Bodily Features of Attractiveness

“Beauty is bought by judgment of the eye” (Shakespeare, Love’s Labour’s Lost), but the bodily features governing this critical biological choice are still debated. Eye movement studies have demonstrated that males sample coarse body regions expanding from the face, the breasts and the midriff, while making female attractiveness judgements with natural vision. However, the visual system ubiquitously extracts diagnostic extra-foveal information in natural conditions, thus the visual information actually used by men is still unknown. 

We thus used a parametric gaze-contingent design while males rated attractiveness of female front- and back-view bodies. Males used extra-foveal information when available. Critically, when bodily features were only visible through restricted apertures, fixations strongly shifted to the hips, to potentially extract hip-width and curvature, then the breast and face. 

Our hierarchical mapping suggests that the visual system primary uses hip information to compute the waist-to-hip ratio and the body mass index, the crucial factors in determining sexual attractiveness and mate selection.

Below:  Left panel: difference fixation maps performed on the Linear Mixed-Model (LMM, Eq. 2) between the front view 2° spotlight and natural viewing conditions.

Full article at:

1Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse, Manufacture des Tabacs, 21 allée de Brienne, 31015 Toulouse Cedex 6, France
2Department of Psychology, University of Fribourg, Switzerland
3Institute of Evolutionary Sciences, University of Montpellier, CNRS, IRD, EPHE, France
Sci Rep. 2016; 6: 18551. Published online 2016 Jan 21. doi:  10.1038/srep18551

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