Perceptions of female body weight and shape among indigenous and urban Europeans

Viren Swami*, Martin J. Tovée

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Citations (Scopus)


Two important cues to female physical attractiveness are body mass index (BMI) and body shape as measured by the waist-to-hip ratio (WHR). This study examined the relative contribution of both cues in three culturally distinct populations. A total of 119 Finnish, Sámi and British male observers rated a set of un-edited photographs of women with known BMI and WHR. The results showed that there were significant differences in preferences for physical attractiveness, with the indigenous Sámi preferring figures with larger BMIs and more tolerant of heavy-weight figures than either Finnish participants in Helsinki or Britons in London, who were indistinguishable in their preferences for slim figures. The findings are discussed in terms of evolutionary psychological explanations of mate selection, and sociocultural theories which emphasizes the learning of preferences for body sizes in social and cultural contexts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-50
Number of pages8
JournalScandinavian Journal of Psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2007
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'Perceptions of female body weight and shape among indigenous and urban Europeans'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this