Functional significance of waist-to-hip ratio / by Tanya D. Spencer
Spencer, Tanya Dee
DisciplinePsychology : Clinical
Anthropometry - Psychological aspects
Body weight - Psychological aspects
Waist-hip ratio (WHR)
MetadataShow full item record
Waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) may be important and highly visible “honest advertisement” of general and reproductive health and, hence, physical attractiveness. Research shows that men and women aged 18-86 agree on what constitutes attractive WHRs: .7 for women and .9 for men. However, stimuli used in previous studies confound weight with WHR because the line drawings or photographs are altered to yield a range of WHRs and the actual body mass index (BMI) is not available. The purpose of the present study was to compare the predictive power of WHR and BMI in explaining the variance in attractiveness judgements. Unretouched photographs of men and women that varied by WHR and BMI were rated by men and women on several dimensions (masculine, feminine, good-looking, sexy, intelligent, interested in having children, capable of having children, age, weight, weight category, attractiveness for marriage, attractiveness for brief casual sex) and ranked according to global preference. Results showed that photographs of WHRs of .7 for females and only .8 for males were seen as most attractive. However, ratings of attractiveness were largely determined by BMI of the person pictured, although WHR was a sole predictor of age estimates and masculinity ratings. People with high BMIs were generally seen as less attractive and less intelligent. Raters, particularly women, were quite accurate at estimating the weight of people pictured. Ratings were largely consistent across rater characteristics, including sex, and ratings (pictures presented in random order one at a time) and rankings (pictures presented in random order simultaneously). Self-report anthropometric measurements were also found to be fairly reliable. These results suggest that BMI, not WHR may be the best predictor of judgements of physical attractiveness.