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Body Image. 2011 Mar;8(2):190-3. doi: 10.1016/j.bodyim.2010.12.003. Epub 2011 Feb 26.

Judging the health and attractiveness of female faces: is the most attractive level of facial adiposity also considered the healthiest?

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School of Psychology, University of St Andrews, St Mary's Quad, South Street, St Andrews, Fife, Scotland, UK.


Perceived facial adiposity plays an important role in perceptions of both facial attractiveness and health, but people might differentiate between the level of adiposity they find most attractive and healthy. The aim of this study was therefore to test whether or not similar levels of adiposity in faces were preferred for judgments of health and attractiveness. Fifty-three Caucasian university students were asked to make three-dimensional female faces appear as healthy and attractive as possible by changing faces along a continuum that portrays the facial adiposity change associated with a change in body mass index. Results showed that women preferred a significantly lower level of facial adiposity when judging attractiveness than when judging health, while men did not differentiate between the 'most attractive' and 'most healthy' looking level of facial adiposity. These findings are discussed in terms of the sociocultural portrayal of female body ideals and the preference for healthy individuals.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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