Seasonal variation in men’s ratings of women’s attractiveness

Pawlowski and Sorokowski(1, pdf) had a sample of Polish men, both rural and urban, rate the attractiveness of the same set of women’s pictures on 5 occasions: 2004 dates were Jan, May, Aug, Oct; 2005 date was Jan.  The images comprised of a woman’s physique whose waist-to-hip ratio was manipulated by digitally altering waist or hip size (woman’s WHR was 0.65), pictures of women’s breasts, and pictures of ordinary faces.


Nicotine enhances perceived attractiveness of faces in non-dependent smokers

Attwood et al.(1, pdf) investigated how nicotine affects the perceived attractiveness of faces among light smokers, i.e., those not dependent on nicotine.  They had pictures of the faces of young adult men and young adult women judged for attractiveness by lightly smoking male and female college students who had been asked to not smoke for the past day.  Compliance with this requirement was tested by examining the level of carbon monoxide exhaled by the participants before the test.  When the participants were tested, they were either given a regular cigarette to smoke or a nicotine-free cigarette and then they were asked to rate the attractiveness of faces as well as answer some questions about their mood and how irritable they felt.  Neither the participants nor those who administered the tests knew which participant had gotten what kind of cigarette.


Is the average torso among women the most attractive?

Is this the most attractive torso in women?

average torso in women, attractive torso

This is a rough sketch of the average torso of a sample of adult women that was found most attractive in a study by Donohoe et al.(1, pdf), more attractive than the average torsos of “super attractive” women such as Playboy centerfolds, high-fashion models from the 1920s and 1930s and high class Australian prostitutes/escorts.

This study employed a different methodology from most studies in the genre to date.  The authors produced sketches of torsos with random combinations of shoulder, waist and hip widths – all widths found within samples of ordinary women – and had sets of images rated for attractiveness by male students.


Waist depth (side view) as an important criterion of women’s attractiveness

Rilling et al.(1, pdf) had male and female judges rate the attractiveness of women’s bodies in front, side and back views as well as a short video clip of women’s bodies rotated in space.

The stimulus set comprised of young adult women with a body mass index (BMI; a measure of how much weight a given height carries or weight divided by the square of height) between 18 and 24.

The authors found that waist depth, shown below, was an important predictor of women’s attractiveness.

Waist depth
Waist depth.


Attractiveness related to head and face length relative to height

People have been describing the ideal length of the head (top of head to bottom of chin) or face height (from hairline to bottom of chin) in relation to standing height since at least Classical Greece.  In the fifth century B.C., the Greek sculptor Polycleitus of Argos described some aesthetic proportions in The Canon of Polycleitus and illustrated it with a bronze statue of the Canon or Doryphorus (Spear bearer).  The Roman marble copy of Doryphorus is shown below.  The height of Doryphorus is 7.5 times the head length.


Pearls before swine (Matthew 7:6) for the uninitiated: the case of Caroline (Carrie) Michelle Prejean

Carrie Prejean

Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine,
lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you. (Matthew 7:6)


Stephanie Naumoska: thinness not enough for high-fashion modeling

Stephanie Naumoska

Stephanie Naumoska was a contestant in the Miss Universe-Australia pageant.  Her very thin figure generated controversy.  At 5-foot-11, she reportedly weighed in at 108 pounds.  One look at her and I knew that I needed to discuss her looks, but not because of her thinness.

Julija Ribkina


Using adult actresses and nude models to infer what heterosexual men prefer in women’s looks

I have argued on some occasions that using top-ranked adult actresses and nude models to infer the optimal preferences of heterosexual men is a bad idea.  Here is an upcoming letter in the Archives of Sexual Behavior.  It is a response to an article by Voracek and Fisher (2006) who concluded that heterosexual men prefer more masculine-looking adult actresses compared to nude models, and that these women are often medically underweight.


Jean Paul Gaultier uses Inès de la Fressange to take some people for a ride

At the recent Spring/Summer 2009 Paris Fashion Week, Jean Paul Gaultier had 51-year-old former high-fashion model Inès de la Fressange model one of his designs on the runway.



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