"Their Ideas of Beauty Are, on the Whole, the Same as Ours": Consistency and Variability in the Cross-Cultural Perception of Female Physical Attractiveness

Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (Impact Factor: 5.08). 01/1995; 68(2):261-279. DOI: 10.1037/0022-3514.68.2.261


The consistency of physical attractiveness ratings across cultural groups was examined. In Study 1, recently arrived native Asian and Hispanic students and White Americans rated the attractiveness of Asian, Hispanic, Black, and White photographed women. The mean correlation between groups in attractiveness ratings was
r = .93. Asians, Hispanics, and Whites were equally influenced by many facial features, but Asians were less influenced by some sexual maturity and expressive features. In Study 2, Taiwanese attractiveness ratings correlated with prior Asian, Hispanic, and American ratings, mean
r = .91. Supporting Study 1, the Taiwanese also were less positively influenced by certain sexual maturity and expressive features. Exposure to Western media did not influence attractiveness ratings in either study. In Study 3, Black and White American men rated the attractiveness of Black female facial photos and body types. Mean facial attractiveness ratings were highly correlated (
r = .94), but as predicted Blacks and Whites varied in judging bodies. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)

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    • "Children as young as 2 -3 months old look longer at female faces that adults consider attractive, and this finding is as true when the children are white and look at the faces of black women who seem attractive to black men as it is when the children are black and look at the faces of white women who seem attractive to white men (Langlois et al., 2000; Langlois et al., 1991; Langlois et al., 1987; Langlois & Stephen, 1977). Similar findings have been found with adults of various racial/ethnic origins (Bernstein et al., 1982; Cunningham et al., 1995; Maret, 1983; Miller, 1969; Perrett et al., 1994). Our notions of beauty vary much less than our ability to use them as criteria for mate choice, this ability being constrained by situations and cultural rules that vary from one place to another. "
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    ABSTRACT: In many humans, head hair can grow to a much greater length than hair elsewhere on the body. This is a “derived” form that evolved outside Africa and probably in northern Eurasia. The ancestral form, which is frizzier and much shorter, survives in sub-Saharan Africans and in other groups whose ancestors never left the tropics. This original hair form is nonetheless relatively straight and silky during infancy. Head hair thus seems to have lengthened in two stages: 1) retention of the infant hair form at older ages; and 2) further lengthening to mid-back and even waist lengths. These changes seem to have gone farther in women, whose head hair is thicker and somewhat longer. The most popular evolutionary explanations are: 1) relaxation of selection for short hair; and 2) sexual selection for women with long hair. Neither hypothesis is satisfactory. The first one cannot explain why head hair lengthened so dramatically over so little time. The second hypothesis suffers from the assumption that some populations have remained naturally short-haired because they consider long-haired women undesirable. Almost the opposite is true in traditional African cultures, which have a long history of lengthening and straightening women’s hair. It is argued here that sexual selection produced different outcomes in different populations not because standards of beauty differed but because the intensity of sexual selection differed. In the tropical zone, sexual selection acted more on men than on women and was thus too weak to enhance desirable female characteristics. This situation reversed as ancestral humans spread northward into environments that tended to limit polygyny while increasing male mortality. Because fewer men were available for mating, women faced a more competitive mate market and were selected more severely.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2015 · Advances in Anthropology
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    • "Please feel free to share the survey link with your colleagues and friends as we are seeking a large number of responses. " 6 See for example: Cunningham et al. (1995), Little et al. (2011), Murakami et al. (2008), and Rhodes et al. (2001). In particular, we altered the unattractive man's photos such that his eyes appeared to be smaller, chin somewhat less defined, and the shape of his face less symmetric. "

    Full-text · Article · Apr 2015 · International Journal of Manpower
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    • "Moreover, global media shapes concepts of beauty through continually exposing audiences to certain looks that then mould perceptions of beauty and attractiveness, largely within a limited western framework.[34] Concepts of beauty that apply consistently across society include attributes such as large eyes, prominent cheekbones, full lips, shaped eye-brows, and a petite nose and chin.[35] The almost universal desire for such qualities suggests similar criteria for judging beauty.[36] "

    Full-text · Article · Mar 2015
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