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Do single women feel more physically attractive than single men? Body appearance self-esteem predictors in never-married single men and women Dominika Ochnik

  • Academy of Silesia

Abstract and Figures

Do single women feel more physically attractive than single men? Body appearance self-esteem predictors in never-married single men and women She's hot and he's not! Background
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Dominika Ochnik
Katowice School of Economics, Poland;
Eugenia Mandal
University of Silesia in Katowice, Poland
Do single women feel more physically attractive
than single men?
Body appearance self-esteem predictors in never-married single men and women
She’s hot and he’s not!
Physical attractiveness plays a vital role in mate selection preference (Buss, 2015).
Studies show that women have a higher level of dissatisfaction with their body appearance
than men (Connor-Greene, 1988; Cash & Brown, 1989; Cash, Ancis, & Stachan, 1997),
although male body image concerns are strong as well and often unrecognized and
underestimated (Pope, Phillips, & Olivardia, 2000). Nevertheless, generally, men score
higher than women in Body Appearance that stands for self-esteem of physical
attractiveness (Fecenec, 2008).
Aim & Methods
The aim of the study was to explore conditions and predictors of Body Appearance in single
men and women. Body Appearance indicates self-esteem of physical appearance.
The study involved 196 never-married, childless, heterosexual, over 30 years old, and
currently not involved in a serious relationship men (N = 73; M, SDage = 33.71, 4.85) and
women (N = 123; M, SDage = 34.89, 6.24).
Body Appearance subscale of The Multidimensional Self-Esteem Inventory MSEI
(O`Brien, Epstein, 1986),
The Multidimensional Sexuality Questionnaire MSQ (Snell, 1993),
The Satisfaction with Life Scale SWLS (Diener, Emmons, Larson, Griffin, 1985),
Interpersonal Competence Questionnaire ICQ (Buhrmester, Furman, Wittenberg, Reis,
Psychological Gender Inventory IPP (Polish adaptation of Bem Sex Role Inventory BSRI)
The study revealed distinctive conditions and predictors of body appearance in single
men and women.
Body Appearance in Single Women & Men
Single men had lower body appearance self-esteem (M = 26.67, SD = 8.10) comparing to
single women (M = 31.98, SD = 8.84). The difference was significant, χ2(1, N = 196) =
20.55, p < .001. Sten score for single women was 6, that is considered as average,
whereas for single men it was 3, that stands for low level of self-esteem in physical
attractiveness. (Fig.1)
Single men scored in Body Appearance lower comparing to both, men (M = 32,47.67, SD
= 6.06) and women (M =30.79, SD = 6.28) in normative group (Fecenec, 2008).
Body Appearance
Body Appearance in Single Women & Men
Single Women Single Men
Figure 1. Means of Body Appearance Scale in Single Women and Men
Conditions of self-perceived Body Appearance in Single Women & Men
Men remaining single over 1 year experienced abrupt drop in the feeling of physical
attractiveness and felt the least attractive when remained single over 5 years. Single men
who had more than 2 previous long-term relationships felt more physically attractive
comparing to those who had none or 1 long-term relationship in the past.
Reasons for being single mattered among single women. Women being single by chance
felt less attractive whilst women being single because of high expectations felt more
Body Appearance was not significantly differentiated by choice as a reason for being
single both in men and women (Tab.1)
Table 1
Kruskal-Wallis significance of differences analysis of Body Appearance as regards: previous long-term
relationships, period of remaining single, and reasons for being single: chance, choice, high
expectations in single women and men
N = 123
Previous long-term relationshipsa
Period of remaining singleb
Reasons for being single:
High expectations
Note. a Scale from 1 to 3: 1-none, 2- two, 3 more than two; b Scale from 1 to 5: 1 less than 6
months, 2 6 to12 months, 3 12 to 24 months, 4 2 to 5 years, 5 over 5 years;
*p < .05, **p < .01
Predictors of self-perceived Body Appearance in Single Women & Men
Regression analysis revealed that the predictors of body appearance self-esteem differed in
single men and women.
The hierarchical regression analysis for predictors of Body Appearance among single
women was conducted in three steps (Step 1. F1,120= 36.16, p < .001, Step 2. F2,119 = 26.01,
p < .001, Step 3. F3,118 = 20.14, p < .001).
The most important predictor was Initiating Relationships which uniquely explained 23%
of the variation in Body Appearance. Together the three independent variables: Initiating
Relationships, Sexual Anxiety, and Satisfaction with Life accounted for 34% of the
variance. High scores in Initiating Relationships and Satisfaction with Life and low scores
in Sexual Anxiety allowed to predict high self-esteem of physical attractiveness in single
women. (Tab. 2, Fig. 2)
Table 2
Results of hierarchical multiple regression analysis for variables predicting Body Appearance
in single women (N = 123)
Step 1
Initiating Relationships
Initiating Relationships
Sexual Anxiety
Step 3
Initiating Relationships
Sexual Anxiety
Satisfaction with Life
Note.*p < .05, **p < .01, ***p < .001
Figure 2. Scatterplot of Regression standardized residuals of Body Appearance in single women
The hierarchical regression analysis for predictors of Body Appearance among single men
was conducted in two steps (Step 1. F1,71 = 24.68, p < .001, Step 2. F2,70 = 16.97, p < .001) In
single men group the predictors of body appearance self-esteem were: sexual depression
and psychological masculinity.
Sexual Depression contributed significantly to the regression model and uniquely
explained 26% of the variation in Body Appearance in single men. Together with
Masculinity, both variables accounted for 33% of the variance.
Low scores in Sexual Depression and Masculinity allowed to predict high scores in self-
esteem of physical attractiveness in single men. (Tab. 3, Fig. 3)
Table 3
Results of hierarchical multiple regression analysis for variables predicting Body Appearance
in single men (N = 73)
Step 1
Sexual Depression
Sexual Depression
Note. **p < .01, ***p < .001
Figure 3. Scatterplot of regression standardized residuals of Body Appearance in single men
(Self-esteem of physical
appearance )
Previous long-term relationships
Being single over 1 year
Reasons for singlehood:
High expectations
1. Single women felt more physically attractive than single men.
Unlike the results in general population, single men felt less attractive than single women.
While single women presented the same level of self-esteem in physical attractiveness as
women in general, single men perceived their attractiveness lower than single women, and
both men and women in general.
The lower self-esteem of physical attractiveness in never-married single men was related to
the lack of long-term (sexual) partner. It can be also predicted by the feelings of depression
regarding sexual life and lowered masculinity. Therefore, singlehood is threatening for
single men’s sexuality, hence their self-esteem of physical (sexual) attractiveness decreases
with the period of remaining single.
2. Distinctive predictors of self-esteem of physical appearance in single men and women
Conducted research showed that body appearance self-esteem plays a different role in
single men and women. Even though physical attractiveness is crucial for women in general,
the lack of long-term (sexual) partner did not affect females’ feeling of physical
attractiveness as in men. One of the explanation could be different meaning of sexual
activity for building self-esteem in femininity and masculinity. As research showed physical
(sexual) attractiveness was moderated by social skill as initiating relationships and global
assessment of satisfaction with life. Single women deals also with sexual anxiety that stands
for the tendency to feel tension, and discomfort about their sexual life, but sexuality was
only one of a few aspects. Hence, physical attractiveness in single women was based on
broad dimensions, whereas it was anchored directly to sexuality in case of single men.
In consequence the self-perception of physical attractiveness in single women did not
differ from women in general, whereas in single men did.
3. Reasons for women and remaining single for men different conditions of physical
Different reasons for being single turned out to be significant in self-perception of physical
attractiveness for single women, whereas for single men the reasons were irrelevant. Single
women felt more physically attractive if they were single because of high expectations and
less if they were single by chance. Therefore, self-esteem of body appearance can be
positively shaped by the way of interpreting reasons for being single, but only in women.
1. Research showed that due to different challenges of masculinity and femininity, self-
perception of physical (sexual) attractiveness was differently moderated in single men
and women, as the lack of long-term (sexual) partner was more threatening to single
men’s sexuality than women’s.
2. In consequence never-married single men tend to assess their physical attractiveness
lower than single women.
3. The feeling of physical attractiveness was, besides sexuality, related to broader
dimensions in single women, whereas in single men to sexuality and masculinity
4. There can be indicated leads for practitioners working with single people. The
counseling should regard sex differences in single people. Psychological areas in single
men group should include:
strengthening self-esteem of physical attractiveness,
enhancing the feeling of masculinity, and
in single women group:
deepening of self-awareness of the reason for singlehood, and
enhancing interpersonal competence in initiating relationships.
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Full-text available
Aim The aim of this study was to reveal the role of gender and culture (German vs Polish) in Satisfaction With Singlehood (SWS). Background Due to the number of singles increasing over the past decades, the assessment of the extent to which such people are satisfied with their singlehood and establishment of specific variables enabling satisfaction with life in singlehood to be predicted seem valid. An additional factor was gender and culture, as feminine and masculine roles are defined mainly by familial and matrimonial life and diverse cultural context. Methods Study 1 encompassed 512 never married childless singles above 30 years old, Study 2: 196 Polish never-married singles, and Study 3: 265 German never-married singles (pairfam data). Research methods were: Satisfaction with singlehood, Multidimensional Sexuality Questionnaire (MSQ), Inventory of Gender Assessment (IPP), Multidimensional Self-Esteem Inventory (MSEI), UCLA III Loneliness Scale, Romantic Beliefs Scale (RBS), Interpersonal Competences Questionnaire (ICQ), Satisfaction with Life Scale (SWLS). German sample was retrieved from The German Panel Analysis of Intimate Relationships and Family Dynamics – pairfam. Results Study 1 revealed significant medium effects of gender and country, with women and German sample reporting a higher SWS. Study 2 showed different prediction models for Polish sample. SWS was explained by satisfaction with life, romantic belief, loneliness, and competence in women. The predictors in Polish men were: initiating relationships and internal sexual control. Study 3 revealed willingness to have a partner as the only predictor in German women, and in German men: satisfaction with life, loneliness and mating confidence. Conclusion Satisfaction With Singlehood (SWS) was higher in women than men, regardless of culture. German single never-married women were the most satisfied group. Traditional masculine role predicted higher SWS in single men. Satisfaction with singlehood proved to be separate from satisfaction with life.
Full-text available
The purpose of the present investigation was to develop and validate an objective self-report instrument, the Multidimensional Sexuality Questionnaire (MSQ), designed to measure psychological tendencies associated with sexual relationships. Results indicated that the MSQ subscales had high internal consistency, test-retest reliability, and were largely independent of social desirability tendencies. Other results indicated that women and men responded in unique ways to the MSQ, with women reporting greater sexual-fear and men reporting greater sexual-esteem, sexual-preoccupation, sexual-motivation, sexual-assertiveness, and external-sexual-control. Additional evidence for the concurrent, discriminant, and convergent validity of the MSQ was found: the MSQ was associated not only with women''s and men''s sexual attitudes and their exchange and communal approaches to sexual relations, but also with their scores on other instruments conceptually similar to the MSQ. Men''s and women''s sexual behaviors were also predictably related to their scores on the MSQ subscales. The discussion focuses on research and applied uses of the Multidimensional Sexuality Questionnaire.
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Cultural forces influence body-image development in gender-contingent ways, such that women in our society possess more dysfunctional body-image attitudes than men do. However, few studies have examined how women’s body-image experiences relate to their own gender attitudes and ideologies. This investigation of 122 college women assessed multiple parameters of body image (i.e., evaluation, investment, and affect) and different facets of gender attitudes and feminist identity development. Results revealed minimal relationships between body-image attitudes and either feminist identity or adherence to traditional gender beliefs at individual/stereotypic or societal levels. On the other hand, traditional gender attitudes at the level of male-female social interactions were associated with stronger and more dysfunctional investments in cultural and personal appearance standards. The scientific, social, and clinical implications of these findings are discussed.
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In three studies we investigated the utility of distinguishing among different domains of interpersonal competence in college students' peer relationships. In Study 1 we developed a questionnaire to assess five dimensions of competence: initiating relationships, self-disclosure, asserting displeasure with others' actions, providing emotional support, and managing interpersonal conflicts. Initial validation evidence was gathered. We found that self-perceptions of competence varied as a function of sex of subject, sex of interaction partner, and competence domain. In Study 2 we found moderate levels of agreement between ratings of competence by subjects and their roommates. Interpersonal competence scores were also related in predictable ways to subject and roommate reports of masculinity and femininity, social self-esteem, loneliness, and social desirability. In Study 3 we obtained ratings of subjects' competence from their close friends and new acquaintances. Relationship satisfaction among new acquaintances was predicted best by initiation competence, whereas satisfaction in friendships was most strongly related to emotional support competence. The findings provide strong evidence of the usefulness of distinguishing among domains of interpersonal competence.
This article reports the development and validation of a scale to measure global life satisfaction, the Satisfaction With Life Scale (SWLS). Among the various components of subjective well-being, the SWLS is narrowly focused to assess global life satisfaction and does not tap related constructs such as positive affect or loneliness. The SWLS is shown to have favorable psychometric properties, including high internal consistency and high temporal reliability. Scores on the SWLS correlate moderately to highly with other measures of subjective well-being, and correlate predictably with specific personality characteristics. It is noted that the SWLS is suited for use with different age groups, and other potential uses of the scale are discussed.
Body image is a multidimensional construct defined by persons' perceptions of and attitudes about their body. Although the sexes differ on some parameters of body image, the present experiment was conducted to determine the manner and extent to which the sexes are socially perceived to differ. Male and female college students (n=72) completed a standardized body-image inventory, the Multidimensional Body-Self Relations Questionnaire, in response to three counterbalanced instructional contexts—for self, for the typical male peer, and for the typical female peer. As compared with the actual, often modest, sex differences found on several body-image indices, the sexes were perceived to differ substantially on all measured aspects of body image. The stereotypical misperception of the sexes was clearly a more disparaging distortion of the body image of women than of men. The findings were interpreted in relation to possible contributing factors and directions for future research.
Gender differences in college students' perceptions and satisfaction with body weight were examined. Females tended to perceive themselves as overweight when they were not, failed to see themselves as underweight when they were, and many of those who did not see themselves as even slightly overweight wanted to lose weight. Although males reported some dissatisfaction with their bodies, they tended to want to gain rather than lose weight. Females dieted more frequently than did males, and nearly one-third of the females reported either self-induced vomiting or laxative use as a weight-loss strategy. The relationship between social pressure for female slenderness, dieting, and eating disorders are discussed.
The Adonis complex: The secret crisis of male body obsession
  • H G Pope
  • K A Phillips
  • R Olivardia
Pope, H.G., Phillips, K.A., & Olivardia, R. (2000). The Adonis complex: The secret crisis of male body obsession. New York, NY: Free Press.
Inventory to assess Psychological Gender (IPP) [Inwentarz do oceny płci psychologicznej
  • A Kuczyńska
Kuczyńska, A. (1992). Inventory to assess Psychological Gender (IPP) [Inwentarz do oceny płci psychologicznej. Podręcznik.] Warszawa: PTP.
The Multidimensional Self-Esteem Inventory (MSEI): Professional manual
  • E J O'brien
  • S Epstein
O'Brien, E. J., Epstein, S. (1988). The Multidimensional Self-Esteem Inventory (MSEI): Professional manual. Odessa, FL: Psychological Assessment Resources.