The Psychology of Beauty

Visit Blog Website

38 posts · 49,472 views

Reflections on the scientific study of beauty.

Wayne Hooke
35 posts

Sort by: Latest Post, Most Popular

View by: Condensed, Full

  • July 19, 2011
  • 06:54 PM

BMI and Self-Rated Attractiveness

by whooke in The Psychology of Beauty

Frederick (2006), utilizing survey data primarily from readers at found a clear relationship (plotted in the image to the right) between BMI and body satisfaction. In this study, women tended to feel best about their bodies when their BMI was between 17.5-20 and men tended to feel best when their BMI was around [...]... Read more »

  • July 14, 2011
  • 06:16 PM

How Much Does Symmetry Influence Attractiveness Ratings?

by whooke in The Psychology of Beauty

Stefan Van Dongen has just published a very nice meta analysis of the relationship between attractiveness ratings and measures of asymmetry. The noteworthy findings include: visible asymmetries are more important to attractiveness ratings than are non visible asymmetries F1,37=7.55 (p=.01) funnel plot analyses indicate a substantial publication bias in the literature studies with large sample [...]... Read more »

  • December 20, 2010
  • 05:15 PM

Is Beauty More Rewarding for Men II?

by whooke in The Psychology of Beauty

It’s been too long since I have made regular postings to the Beauty Blog.  I am happy to report that I am back and ready to go!  Just to get started, I have decided that every so often I will be revisiting the topics of earlier postings, emphasizing how subsequent research supports – and does [...]... Read more »

  • June 13, 2010
  • 06:33 PM

Candidate Appearance Matters

by Wayne Hooke in The Psychology of Beauty

Appearance matters – but not in the same way for male and female political candidates. Limiting this discussion to the beauty-relevant elements of Chiao, Bowman, & Gill’s 2008 study, being attractive has an effect on rates of voting for female candidates while appearing approachable has an effect on women’s rates of voting for male candidates [...]... Read more »

  • May 3, 2010
  • 04:37 PM

Can’t Fight the Feeling

by Wayne Hooke in The Psychology of Beauty

A recent study (Karremans, 2010) that compared the preferences of blind and sighted men for the shape of adjustable dress forms with one of two WHRs (.70 and .84) has been getting some coverage in the popular press. Nineteen blind from birth adult males (aged 27-72 with a mean of 45.5) and 38 sighted [...]... Read more »

Karremans, J., Frankenhuis, W., & Arons, S. (2010) Blind men prefer a low waist-to-hip ratio. Evolution and Human Behavior, 31(3), 182-186. DOI: 10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2009.10.001  

  • April 26, 2010
  • 12:27 AM

Looking Older

by Wayne Hooke in The Psychology of Beauty

Gunn (2009), comparing a number of aged/aging twinned and non-twinned subjects (some of the non-twins were of different ages), have concluded that the primary indicators of aging in women are: skin wrinkling hair graying lip height (measured from the “vermillion border on the philtral crest” (the high points of the upper lips spaced around [...]... Read more »

Gunn, D., Rexbye, H., Griffiths, C., Murray, P., Fereday, A., Catt, S., Tomlin, C., Strongitharm, B., Perrett, D., Catt, M.... (2009) Why Some Women Look Young for Their Age. PLoS ONE, 4(12). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0008021  

  • March 6, 2010
  • 11:18 PM

Brain Scans Confirm: Men Like Curves in Women

by Wayne Hooke in The Psychology of Beauty

Platek & Singh (2010) report that stimuli depicting optimal waist-hip ratios (~0.70) activate the “reward center” in men’s brains; while stimuli depicting body mass index do not. They conclude that BMI preferences are therefore more culturally determined and, by suggestion, that WHR preferences are the result of evolved psychological mechanisms. I will point-out at the [...]... Read more »

Fliessbach, K., Rohe, T., Linder, N., Trautner, P., Elger, C., & Weber, B. (2010) Retest reliability of reward-related BOLD signals. NeuroImage, 50(3), 1168-1176. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2010.01.036  

Steven M. Platek, & Devendra Singh. (2010) Optimal Waist-to-Hip Ratios in Women Activate Neural Reward Centers in Men. PLoS ONE. info:/10.1371/journal.pone.0009042

  • February 21, 2010
  • 06:20 PM

The Good Jeans Hypothesis

by Wayne Hooke in The Psychology of Beauty

Just about every article I read on women’s preferences for sexual dimorphism in men points out that the data are consistent with the good genes hypothesis. There are a couple of technical variations of this hypothesis, but they all are based on the reasonably well-established connection between testosterone and impeded immune system functioning. The idea [...]... Read more »

  • February 17, 2010
  • 06:37 PM


by Wayne Hooke in The Psychology of Beauty

About two years ago, Elliot & Niesta (2008), concluded that the color red makes men find women more attractive. Essentially, they found that men – but not women – rated black and white photos of women about a point higher in physical attractiveness (on a 9-point scale) when the photos were presented on a red [...]... Read more »

Elliot, A., & Niesta, D. (2008) Romantic red: Red enhances men's attraction to women. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 95(5), 1150-1164. DOI: 10.1037/0022-3514.95.5.1150  

Moller, A., Elliot, A., & Maier, M. (2009) Basic hue-meaning associations. Emotion, 9(6), 898-902. DOI: 10.1037/a0017811  

  • February 3, 2010
  • 07:17 PM

Testosterone is Not a Handicap

by Wayne Hooke in The Psychology of Beauty

Many contemporary beauty researchers assume/conclude that attractive, sexually dimorphic features in men (strong jaws, increased lean muscle mass, etc.) are true signals of mate quality. This model is best illustrated in peacock tail feathers: the size and color of the train makes the male more sexually attractive to peahens. Rather than being just an attractive, [...]... Read more »

Richard G. Bribiescas . (2008) How hormones mediate trade-offs in human health and disease. (77-94). . Evolution in Health and Disease, Stearns . info:/

Nunn, C., Lindenfors, P., Pursall, E., & Rolff, J. (2009) On sexual dimorphism in immune function. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 364(1513), 61-69. DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2008.0148  

  • January 30, 2010
  • 02:46 PM

Static & Dynamic – or is it Static vs. Dynamic?

by Wayne Hooke in The Psychology of Beauty

Most beauty research is done using static stimuli: static photographic images are used rather than, for example, dynamic video depictions. Since most real-world interactions with others do not involve static presentations, it is important to know how similar these two types of attractiveness ratings typically are.
Roberts, (2009) have recently reported finding a positive correlation [...]... Read more »

Roberts, S., Saxton, T., Murray, A., Burriss, R., Rowland, H., & Little, A. (2009) Static and Dynamic Facial Images Cue Similar Attractiveness Judgements. Ethology, 115(6), 588-595. DOI: 10.1111/j.1439-0310.2009.01640.x  

  • January 24, 2010
  • 05:35 PM

Caution: Curves Ahead

by Wayne Hooke in The Psychology of Beauty

In my last posting, I found myself musing about how WHR would influence ratings of body attractiveness if BMI was held constant. Recent research comparing the relative roles of BMI and WHR have tended to support a more prominent role for BMI over WHR. That is, the total amount of body fat seems to matter [...]... Read more »

  • January 18, 2010
  • 08:35 PM

Why Do We Think We Like Hourglass Figures?

by Wayne Hooke in The Psychology of Beauty

BMI – the ratio of body mass to height, typically correlates well with ratings of body attractiveness. WHR – a direct comparison of waist and hip measurements – also correlates with attractiveness. Recent research that compares the relative strengths of the two ratios generally finds that variation in BMI accounts for a greater proportion of [...]... Read more »

Law Smith, M., Perrett, D., Jones, B., Cornwell, R., Moore, F., Feinberg, D., Boothroyd, L., Durrani, S., Stirrat, M., Whiten, S.... (2006) Facial appearance is a cue to oestrogen levels in women. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 273(1583), 135-140. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2005.3296  

  • January 16, 2010
  • 08:24 PM

Sexual Orientation, Sociosexuality, and Sexual Dimorphism

by Wayne Hooke in The Psychology of Beauty

Using digitally manipulated levels of sexual dimorphism in human male and female faces (like the ones to the right), Glassenberg (2009) found that, compared to heterosexual women, homosexual women preferred greater masculinization in female faces [Brown-Forsythe t(303.38) = -2.92, p<.01] while heterosexual women preferred greater masculinization in male faces [t(375) = 6.77, p<.001]. Compared [...]... Read more »

  • December 29, 2009
  • 09:19 PM

Looking Younger…. Looking Less Masculine?

by Wayne Hooke in The Psychology of Beauty

Egan & Cordan (2008) digitally altered the faces of 17-year-old girls (n=10) to look either younger (morphed to appear similar to the prototype of 10-year-old girls – top row) or older (similar to the prototype of 20-year-old women – bottom row). Additionally, some stimuli were altered by adding digital make-up (right column). The authors had [...]... Read more »

  • December 18, 2009
  • 10:20 PM

Careful – She’s Cute!

by Wayne Hooke in The Psychology of Beauty

Sherman, Haidt & Coan (2009) have found evidence that exposure to cute stimuli improves fine motor performance. In brief, subjects were exposed to images of cats/dogs or puppies/kittens and then they played the children’s game, Operation. Both studies reported in this paper found that exposure to cuteness increased subjects’ ability to successfully play Operation. Sherman [...]... Read more »

  • November 2, 2009
  • 02:54 PM

Sans Fards

by Wayne Hooke in The Psychology of Beauty

French Elle’s April 2009 edition highlighted make-up free beauty. Given the social effects of the “perfectly” beautiful images in contemporary media, Elle’s edition is noteworthy. Three covers were used – the crop below right is of the one featuring Monica Bellucci. The photo above right is from Wikipedia Commons – showing Ms. Bellucci in make-up. [...]... Read more »

  • November 1, 2009
  • 11:57 PM

Asymmetry in Supermodels

by Wayne Hooke in The Psychology of Beauty

A common goal in most oculoplastic procedures is to increase symmetry. In an effort to establish baseline measures in attractive subjects, Ing (2006) measured ocular asymmetries in male and female models’ photos in fashion magazine advertisements (e.g., Cosmopolitan, Elle, Glamour, Vogue, Gentleman’s Quarterly, etc.). They found significant asymmetries in:

horizontal fissure width (1)
upper central lid [...]... Read more »

Ing E, Safarpour A, Ing T, & Ing S. (2006) Ocular adnexal asymmetry in models: a magazine photograph analysis. Canadian journal of ophthalmology. Journal canadien d'ophtalmologie, 41(2), 175-82. PMID: 16767204  

  • October 12, 2009
  • 06:37 PM

The Beauty Penalty

by Wayne Hooke in The Psychology of Beauty

It has been generally concluded that beautiful people earn more money than others. This conclusion is called into question in a thoughtful analysis of some new and previously used data sets (Doran & Herch, 2009). After adding a number of corrections, robustness checks, and additional controls to the reanalyzed data, these researchers conclude that real-world [...]... Read more »

  • October 7, 2009
  • 03:21 PM

Beauty is “more” in the eye of the beholder…..

by Wayne Hooke in The Psychology of Beauty

Joshua Foster (2008) conducted a study that expands on the research that explores the role of visual and olfactory cues in attractiveness ratings. Previous studies – which found that olfactory cues may be as influential or more influential in evaluating attractiveness – have relied on retrospective reports from participants. Foster’s design utilized real-time, in-the-moment attractiveness [...]... Read more »

join us!

Do you write about peer-reviewed research in your blog? Use to make it easy for your readers — and others from around the world — to find your serious posts about academic research.

If you don't have a blog, you can still use our site to learn about fascinating developments in cutting-edge research from around the world.

Register Now

Research Blogging is powered by SRI Technology.

To learn more, visit