Study: Female Body Shape Men Can’t Forget
They say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but recent studies still point to how narrow the paradigm is when it comes to what men find attractive. Although the world holds over seven billion people, more than half of whom are women, evolutionary psychologists insist that a certain female body shape, angle of the backside and certain waist to hip ratio hold sway over other shapes and sizes.
One study from the Univesity of South Carolina consisted of showing men pictures of various women and included a brief biographical outline along with each picture. Men remembered more details about the subject of the picture including her name, occupation, family details and interests if she had a certain waist to hip ratio.
The ratio was conducted by taking the measurement of the women’s hips and dividing it by the measurement of the women’s waists, the most attractive ratio was found to be 0.70. The scientists believe that the men’s preference and ability to remember things about the women they find most attractive illustrates “adaptive memory”.
This adaptive memory helps a man select the most compatible mate, enabling him to pick a partner he finds attractive who also has a compatible background and interests. This in turn ensures longevity and stability in the relationship, which is also important in an evolutionary sense.
Another study conducted at University of Texas and published in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior found that a certain angle of the spine can make women more attractive to men. Women whose lumbar curve rests at a 45.5 degree angle are the theoretical preferred choice for the 100 men that participated in the study.
The psychologists who conducted the study believe this is another example of adaptive preference. They believe that primitive women with this 45.5 degree lumbar curve would have been best suited to balance extra weight enough to safely and effectively forage while pregnant, thus demonstrating her ability to provide for her children and go through pregnancy without injury. The researchers believe that men are hardwired to respond to this trait when selecting a mate who will carry his own offspring.
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To ensure that the men who preferred the 45 degree angle were responding to the spinal angle rather than a large backside, researchers conducted a second study. The 200 subjects were shown various images of women with different backside sizes and vertebral angles. The consistent preference was for the pictures showing a 45.5 degree curve, no matter the size of the backside.
Of course these studies are small and conducted through American universities, which may have a younger and less racially and economically diverse range of subjects compared to the wider world. In addition to the small sample sizes and age ranges of the test subjects, the studies themselves were conducted in a setting far removed from the real world.
These types of studies do give food for thought about the cultural credence given to men’s preferences and the narrative they hold over women. This narrative is known to influence beauty, dietary habits and ultimately, women’s views of themselves through the lens of men.
Men and women generally do not choose mates from pictures alone, and there are so many other factors that contribute to attraction, from the biological to the intellectual. Men may theoretically be attracted to a certain female body shape, but the studies’ findings hold no true weight over real, tangible relationships.