Female and male perceptions of female physical attractiveness in front-view and profile

Martin J. Tovée*, Piers L. Cornelissen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

173 Citations (Scopus)


Two important cues to female physical attractiveness are body mass index (BMI) and shape. In front view, it seems that BMI may be more important than shape; however, is it true in profile where shape cues may be stronger? There is also the question of whether men and women have the same perception of female physical attractiveness. Some studies have suggested that they do not, but this runs contrary to mate selection theory. This predicts that women will have the same perception of female attractiveness as men do. This allows them to judge their own relative value, with respect to their peer group, and match this value with the value of a prospective mate. To clarify these issues we asked 40 male and 40 female undergraduates to rate a set of pictures of real women (50 in front-view and 50 in profile) for attractiveness. BMI was the primary predictor of attractiveness in both front and profile, and the putative visual cues to BMI showed a higher degree of view-invariance than shape cues such as the waist-hip ratio (WHR). Consistent with mate selection theory, there were no significant differences in the rating of attractiveness by male and female raters.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)391-402
Number of pages12
JournalBritish Journal of Psychology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2001


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