Judging the difference between attractiveness and health: Does exposure to model images influence the judgments made by men and women?

Ian D. Stephen, A. Treshi Marie Perera

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    23 Citations (Scopus)
    99 Downloads (Pure)

    Abstract

    Recent research has shown facial adiposity (apparent weight in the face) to be a significant predictor of both attractiveness and health, thus making it an important determinant of mate selection. Studies looking at the relationship between attractiveness and health have shown that individuals differentiate between the two by preferring a lower weight for attractiveness than for health in female faces. However, these studies have either been correlational studies, or have investigated weight perceived from only the face. These differences have been discussed with regard to sociocultural factors such as pressure from parents, peers and also media, which has been seen to have the highest influence. While exposure to media images has been shown to influence women's own-body image, no study has yet directly tested the influence of these factors on people's preferred weight in other women's bodies. Here we examine how a short exposure to images of models influences men's and women's judgments of the most healthy looking and attractive BMI in Malaysian Chinese women's bodies by comparing differences in preferences (for attractiveness and health) between groups exposed to images of models of varying attractiveness and body weight. Results indicated that participants preferred a lower weight for attractiveness than for health. Further, women's but not men's preferred BMI for attractiveness, but not health, was influenced by the type of media images to which they were exposed, suggesting that short term exposure to model images affect women's perceptions of attractiveness but not health.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article numbere86302
    Pages (from-to)1-8
    Number of pages8
    JournalPLoS ONE
    Volume9
    Issue number1
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 20 Jan 2014

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