Four recent studies, using wildly different data sets, radically different methodologies, and spanning countless cultures, provide further evidence regarding men's preferred waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) preference in women, namely, a WHR in the range of 0.68 to 0.72.
In 2008, I published a paper in the International Journal of e-Collaboration wherein I had investigated the WHRs of advertised female online escorts across 48 countries (1,068 female profiles were coded). The mean advertised WHR ratio was 0.72. Incidentally, I've also looked at the WHRs of sex dolls of a company that specializes in the manufacturing of this particular product. The mean WHR across ten doll models was 0.68. Obviously, both of these figures (no pun intended) fall within the expected preferred range of 0.68 to 0.72.
Barnaby J. Dixson of Victoria University in New Zealand, along with several colleagues, has published two papers in the Archives of Sexual Behavior (2009) and in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology (in press) that further lend credence to the hourglass preference using highly novel data sources. In one case, Dixson et al. used an eye-tracking apparatus to capture the areas that men are most likely to look at (and the first areas that they gaze at) when exposed to frontal images of a naked woman. Six different version of the photo were created, by altering the woman's breast size and WHR (three breast sizes and two WHRs). Not surprisingly, men focused on the breasts and the midriff, and they preferred the WHR of 0.70. In a second study, Dixson and his colleagues explored the WHRs of men in extremely remote villages in Papua New Guinea. In this case, this is a particularly relevant data set as the men in question are minimally (if at all) exposed to Western images. Hence, the notion that men's preferences are socially constructed can be tested in a very direct manner. The men were shown photos of ten women's bodies both preoperatively and postoperatively. The women had had a micrograft surgery that produces a more pronounced hourglass shape. The mean WHR of the ten women preoperatively was 0.80 whereas postoperatively it was 0.72. The Papua New Guinean men had a much stronger preference for the postoperative WHR of 0.72.