Preferences for body mass index and waist-to-hip ratio do not vary with observer age

Hannah R. George, Viren Swami, Piers L. Cornelissen, Martin J. Tovée

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Several studies have suggested that mate selection strategies alter with age, but the mechanism of this shift in mate strategy is unclear. Two possibilities suggest themselves. The first is that attractiveness preferences themselves alter, compensating for the changing mate value of the observer. Alternatively, the preferences may remain constant with observer age, but an individual may compensate for changes in their own relative attractiveness by consciously targeting different regions of the "attractiveness spectrum" as their own mate value changes. To address this question, we asked 142 Caucasian subjects (aged 18-87 years) to rate 50 photographs of women varying in lower body shape (the waist-hip ratio, or WHR), and overall body mass (body mass index, or BMI). We found no effects of observer age on attractiveness preferences. This suggests that the criteria for attractiveness do not alter with changing observer age, and instead that it is the strategies employed using this information that may change.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)207-218
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Evolutionary Psychology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2008
Externally publishedYes


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