Although the media suggests that rail-thin supermodels are the most sexually appealing, evolutionary psychology suggests otherwise. Research on body attractiveness indicates there are certain body shapes that men find attractive in women, and different shapes that women find attractive in men. What are they?
According to evolutionary approaches, males are naturally attracted to mates in order to maximize the number of offspring produced. The focus is on women’s youth, health, and fertility as shown by physical features. Because body type is a reliable indicator of health and fertility, men are more attracted to women with a lower waist-to-hip (WHR) ratio and an average body mass index (BMI), neither thin nor plump, because these are associated with youth and sexual maturity.
During puberty, females produce more estrogen which creates a gynoid body type (fat is deposited on hips, buttocks, and breasts, which creates a smaller-appearing waist relative to the hips). Moreover, despite the common belief that larger breasts are more attractive, it is really the size of the breasts in proportion to the hips, creating the classic “hourglass” figure.
For men, according to evolutionary theory, the android body shape with greater musculature on the upper body and a narrow pelvis with little waist is associated with higher testosterone and good health. This is the classic “V-shaped” body, and men with this type are seen as more dominant. Women also prefer slightly older men, because age is associated with greater accumulation of resources. Finally, and not surprisingly, women prefer taller men.
This is what evolutionary psychology tells us about body types and basic sexual attraction. Of course, we are highly-evolved and socialized animals, so personal preferences, and a variety of other factors also come into play, including such things as facial attractiveness, grooming, and expressive style. To learn more about how these various cues and behaviors contribute to attractiveness, see this earlier post.
So, who is more sexually attractive, Kate Moss supermodel or the hourglass figure of Sofia Vergara? Evolutionary theory suggests Sofia!
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