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  • 1 Department of Psychology, University of Westminster, London, UK
  • 2 Department of Anthropology, University of Wroclaw, Wroclaw, Poland
  • 3 Department of Basic Psychological Research, School of Psychology, University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria
  • 4 Institute of Anthropology, Polish Academy of Sciences, Wroclaw, Poland
  • 5 Division of Public Health, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK
  • 6 Department of Psychology, University College London, London, UK
  • 7 Department of Psychology, University of Westminster, 309 Regent Street, London, W1B 2UW, UK
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Abstract

This study investigated the role of skin tone, hair colour, and body weight in perceptions of women's physical attractiveness and health. Four-hundred and thirty-six women and 423 men in eight distinct national settings on three continents rated a series of 18 female line drawings that varied in three levels of skin tone, two levels of hair colour, and three levels of body weight. Results showed significant cross-cultural differences in what was considered attractive and healthy, as a function of the three manipulated physical characteristics. However, the role played by, and the importance of, the three characteristics appeared to differ relative to the type of rating being made. Specifically, ratings of health were not congruent with ratings of physical attractiveness. There were also a number of interactions between the different variables, which were most pronounced with participants’ nationality. Interactions between the different stimulus variables themselves were small, but nevertheless suggest combined effects. These results support recent arguments for contextualising interpersonal perceptions, rather than viewing them in isolation of sociocultural environments.

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No Evolutionist is an Island

A review of Kevin N. Laland and Gillian R. Brown (2011) Sense and Nonsense. Evolutionary perspectives of human behaviour Oxford: Oxford University Press. 270 pages, ISBN: 978-0-19-958696-7