Patterns of physical attractiveness, self-rated attractiveness and sexual selection strategy in women

Brewer, Gayle orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-0690-4548 (2006) Patterns of physical attractiveness, self-rated attractiveness and sexual selection strategy in women. Doctoral thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

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Here I have investigated the extent to which the physical attractiveness of women was associated with their sexual strategy selection and the extent to which physical and subjective measures of physical attractiveness should be regarded as
separate constructs. I have then considered the manner in which an individual's physical attractiveness (viewed through facial photographs only) influenced men's perceptions of these women as potential mates and women's perceptions of other
females as potential rivals. Finally, the role of non physical factors (birth order and parental investment) was investigated.
In Study lit was found that physical attractiveness (a composite of waist-to-hip ratio, body mass index and facial attractiveness) was not related to self-rated attractiveness, or the sexual attractiveness or physical condition components of body esteem. As physical attractiveness was not related to women's self-rated attractiveness, these variables were considered to be separate constructs. Women with a lower (objective) physical attractiveness reported a greater preference for caring partners and women with a higher self-rated attractiveness and body esteem expressed a greater preference for short-term relationships.
Data from Study II indicated that men were unable to accurately rate the personality of target females (based on facial photographs alone). However, women rated as more physically attractive by the men were also perceived to be more
desirable for a long-term relationship, more likely to possess desirable personality traits and more likely to be promiscuous. An extension of Study II showed that women's selfrated attractiveness was not related to men's ratings of them, further suggesting that women cannot accurately rate their attractiveness to potential romantic partners. However, self-rated attractiveness was positively related to the self reported possession of masculine sex-typed traits and negatively related to levels of neuroticism. Although men rated the attractiveness of female participants from facial photographs alone, women with a lower waist-to-hip ratio and body mass index were rated as the most physically attractive.
In Study III I found that the female targets that had been identified as attractive by male observers were also identified as attractive by female observers. Women could not accurately rate the personality of other females, however women perceived as the most attractive were predicted to follow an unrestricted sexual strategy. Study IV investigated the role of non physical variables in sexual strategy selection. Birth order showed some association with self-rated attractiveness body esteem, partner preference, personality and jealousy. However, parental investment was not related to any of the variables investigated.
The main conclusions from these studies were that women cannot accurately rate their own physical attractiveness. However, women can accurately identify the women that men consider attractive. Both male and female observers expect highly attractive women to adopt an unrestricted sexual strategy. The findings of the study imply that objective ratings of female attractiveness should be considered separately from subjective self-ratings. Personality rather than objective measures relate to selfrated female attractiveness.

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