Karl Grammer, Viktoria Keki, Beate Striebel, Michaela Atzmüller, and Bernhard Fink (2003)

Bodies in motion: A window to the soul

In: Evolutionary Aesthetics, pp. 295-323, Springer.

Evolutionary psychologists have widely accepted that there are biological reasons for body shape and size preferences in potential sexual partners. Female physical attractiveness is considered to be largely a reflection of her potential reproductive success. Recent research suggests that male physical attractiveness is also based upon the same criterion. Reproductive success is defined as the optimum (for a given environment) number of children surviving to reach sexual maturity and to become parents themselves. Buss (1989) suggests that there are cultural universals in desired body size and shape for intersexual attraction, and that these derive from the division of labor between males and females during the course of evolution, where males specialized in hunting activities and females in food gathering and child rearing. Natural and sexual selection are believed to have operated in a way that men and women whose bodies were best suited for these tasks were most attractive to potential mates. We find that females consider their physical appearance as “efficient” when they attract mates, males consider their body as efficient when it promises success in male-male competition (Erikson 1968; Lerner et al. 1976).