Preferences for female body weight and shape in three European countries

Viren Swami*, Felix Neto, Martin J. Tovée, Adrian Furnham

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


Body mass index (BMI) and body shape as measured by the waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) are important components in judgments of women's bodily attractiveness. The relative importance of each of these cues was examined in three countries: Britain, Spain, and Portugal. Male participants from Britain, Spain, and Portugal, respectively, were asked to rate a set of images of real women with known BMI and WHR. The results showed that, regardless of the cultural setting, BMI was the primary determinant of women's physical attractiveness, with consistent preferences for relatively slender women. WHR emerged as a significant predictor of attractiveness judgments for the Spanish and Portuguese groups (with preferences for low WHRs, indicative of a curvaceous female body), but not the British group. These findings are discussed in terms of the different cultural values ascribed to participants in the three countries.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)220-228
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Psychologist
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 3 Sept 2007
Externally publishedYes


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