An analysis of body shape attractiveness based on image statistics: Evidence for a dissociation between expressions of preference and shape discrimination

Kathryn L. Smith, Martin J. Tovée*, Peter J. Hancock, Melissa Bateson, Mike A.A. Cox, Piers L. Cornelissen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

We develop an image-driven approach to the question of what makes the shape of a woman's body attractive. We constructed a set of 625 images of female bodies by factorially recombining four independent descriptors of shape derived from a principal components analysis of the variation in natural body shape, and had observers rate these images for attractiveness. We then modelled observers' attractiveness ratings with polynomial multiple regression, using the same shape descriptors as explanatory variables. The resulting model agrees well with existing models based on simple anthropometric indices of shape; however, some interesting new findings emerge. There was considerable variation in the shape of bodies that were judged to be equally attractive. Further experiments confirmed that observers could detect these subtle variations in shape suggesting a dissociation between attractiveness judgement and shape discrimination.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)927-953
Number of pages27
JournalVisual Cognition
Volume15
Issue number8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2007
Externally publishedYes

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