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Wrong measures of attractiveness

Posted on March 10, 2010 by jim.

Focus on visual perception of sexually dimorphic cues conceals the true meaning of non-verbal communication via olfactory/pheromonal cues, which do not require any interpretation. The WHR preference and other preferences associated with visual input are wrongfully interpreted as meaningful (e.g., by evolutionary psychologists), despite their lack of meaning across phylogeny. Moving forward with this obfuscation, others are now proposing that additional consideration be given for more aspects of WHR-associated visual input.

The Role of Human Body Movements in Mate Selection “… men’s preference for a woman’s slim waistline (as indexed via the waist-to-hip ratio, WHR; Singh, 2002, 2006) was demonstrated only with still images. However, bodies in motion are dynamic sources of information, and this may have an effect also on the perception of cues such as the WHR. Doyle (2009) reported a peak shift effect in the attractiveness perception of WHR when women were moving. He argues that while walking, motion of the waist and hips results in continuously alternate left and right side WHR that are perceived as highly attractive. Modeling this in a female model with a WHR of 0.70 results in left and right side WHRs that are even smaller than 0.70, which are then perceived as “supernormal” (Doyle, 2009).”

From an evolutionary perspective, all measures of visual appeal obfuscate the only real measure of physical appeal across species: olfactory/pheromonal cues of reproductive fitness. Meanwhile, I suspect that plans are being made to detail how movement may be involved in the meaningful interpretation of the distance at the waist from the front of the body to the back, in relation to the circumference of the waist (then compared to an estimation of bust size) — a more complicated measurement than WHR.

The article linked above includes information on hormonal correlates of body movement, which can be directly linked to olfactory/pheromonal cues. Nevertheless, the authors posit that “…it is possible, that evolution has shaped our brain in order to process body movement cues of other individuals in the context of mate selection, similar to evolved preferences for static morphological features of the face and body.” Arguably, however, “…body movement signals information that is crucial for mate choice, as people are sensitive to the variation in movement styles and make attractiveness judgments based on them…” Does the fact that people are sensitive to body movement indicate that evolution has shaped our brain to process movements in the context of mate selection, or do we merely think that we need to process these cues all the while our mate selection is based on olfactory/pheromonal cues of reproductive fitness, like in other animals?



Retired medical laboratory scientist

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