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Agrippa
Sunday, October 2nd, 2005, 02:35 PM
Physical Attractiveness and Health in Western societies

By Weeden J, Sabini J. , Psychol Bull. 2005 Sep;131(5):635-53.


Evidence from developed Western societies is reviewed for the claims that (a) physical attractiveness judgments are substantially based on body size and shape, symmetry, sex-typical hormonal markers, and other specific cues and (b) physical attractiveness and these cues substantially predict health. Among the cues that the authors review, only female waist-to-hip ratio and weight appear to predict both attractiveness and health in the claimed manner. Other posited cues--symmetry and sex-typical hormonal markers among them--failed to predict either attractiveness or health (or both) in either sex. The authors find that there is some indication that attractiveness has an overall relationship with health among women, but little indication that male attractiveness relates to male health.http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=pubmed&dopt=Abstract&list_uids=16187849 (http://forums.skadi.net/redirector.php?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.ncbi .nlm.nih.gov%2Fentrez%2Fquery.fcgi%3Fcmd %3DRetrieve%26db%3Dpubmed%26dopt%3DAbstr act%26list_uids%3D16187849)

From:
http://dienekes.blogspot.com/ (http://forums.skadi.net/redirector.php?url=http%3A%2F%2Fdienekes .blogspot.com%2F)

That would again, if the results are significant, speak for my idea that male selection is not as much determined by the man's health as that of the women, the man has "to present something" and "achieve something", but the female has to be what she pretends - namely fertile and healthy.

So the male selection, if there is a significant one, is more determined by its overall social success and that depends on the structure of a society and its selective regime. This leads to some older thoughts of mine:

What Exaggerates Sexual Dimorphism In Some Races? (http://forums.skadi.net/showthread.php?t=13074)

Evolutionary Psychology: Male Mate Preferences
(http://forums.skadi.net/showthread.php?t=11152)
However, this study seems to have various weaknesses, mainly how attractiveness and health is defined.

QuietWind
Sunday, October 2nd, 2005, 07:42 PM
I hate when I do that. :( I typed my response and then clicked that cute little red X in the upper right hand corner of the screen. :~( Now I have to re-type it all-- and it is never as nicely composed the second time around.


However, this study seems to have various weaknesses, mainly how attractiveness and health is defined.

Based upon my review of the literature on attractiveness, it is generally measured by the ratings of participants on a likert scale. It is defined in this manner and not on any set criteria. Participants are shown photos and asked to make a rating on a likert scale (i.e. 1 for most unattractive- 5 for most attractive). Photos are then ranked based upon the ratings of the participants. This is why obtaining a good representative sample of the population is important (although the few cross cultural studies that exist have generally found evidence of some agreement across cultures.)

I have not read through more than a couple of studies focusing on the variable health, but those that i have read generally measure health based the same as attractiveness. They are looking at perceptions of health based upon body type and not at actual health stats per body type.

Yes, these measures can be considered weaknesses, but they are also a good way at weighing out the general perceptions of health and attractivenss in society. Studies on adult ratings of attrativeness are found to be generally the same as infant perceptions of attractiveness, indicating that this process is innate and not a socially learned construct. Because of this, and other things, participants ratings are generally viewed to be an accurate measure of attractiveness.

The one link you posted, Agrippa: http://forums.skadi.net/showthread.php?t=11152
gives a good review of the literature; however, I would have to argue that some of the information is highly debatable based upon more current studies in these areas. I noticed the most recent study presented in the references is from 2001. There have been studies that I have reviewed the present findings that do not support what is reviewed in the article that is posted in that thread.

Agrippa
Sunday, October 2nd, 2005, 09:25 PM
Other posited cues--symmetry and sex-typical hormonal markers among them--failed to predict either attractiveness or health (or both) in either sex.

I referred especially to this sentence and the idea that attractiveness could be predicted just by symmetry and sex-typical signs. Here I think they worked with the wrong markers, the wrong (simplified) physical feature combination.

QuietWind
Sunday, October 2nd, 2005, 10:00 PM
I referred especially to this sentence and the idea that attractiveness could be predicted just by symmetry and sex-typical signs. Here I think they worked with the wrong markers, the wrong (simplified) physical feature combination.

If you notice, in the link for the post by Nordhammer, they mention a relationship between symmetry and attractiveness also. It points out that averaged faces (which we have talked about in other threads-- which are computer generated facial composites) are viewed as more attractive than individual faces, and the link by nordhammer hypothesizes that this is because of a greater symmetry generated in these faces. There have been other studies that examine symmetry and facial attractiveness and have not found a connection between averages and symmetry. In fact, ironically, one of the articles cited in the summary in that thread, is one that found no correlation for attractiveness and symmetry. (I wonder how the author missed that?) Another study cited in the thread found no interation between facial averages and symmetry, but both were correlated with facial attractiveness-- which indicates that the two are not related, but both may have a seperate influence. (Did the author miss this finding also?)

You are correct that they like to simplify things. I do not think that their statement about symmetry failing to predict attractiveness was intended to simplify or to reduce symmetry to a single predictor of attractiveness. There has been quite a bit of research on the relationship between symmetry and attractiveness, and so it is an important aspect to bring up when examining the variables. Many studies overtly neglect examining the variables and the effects they find could be attributed to extraneous variables not examined.

But, yes, they often do neglect many aspects and oversimplify. But over simplifying leads to more grants for more research, and more paper published. ;) Blame it on money and power. :D