Katrin Schaefer, Bernhard Fink, Karl Grammer, Philipp Mitteroecker, Philipp Gunz, and Fred L Bookstein (2006)

Female appearance: facial and bodily attractiveness as shape

Psychology Science, 48(2):187-204.

Human physical attractiveness is supposed to reflect developmental stability (i.e. the ability of individuals to maintain stable development of their morphology under a given environmental condition) and physiological status. Hence, evolutionary psychologists have suggested that appearance may not only reveal so called ‘honest signals’ but even comprise a single ornament of mate value. However, it is
still a matter of debate which physical features affect the ratings of female beauty, and whether these features are truly associated with aspects of developmental and physiological status. Here we present morphometric data of images of faces and bodies from 92 women together with ratings of attractiveness by 60 men. A total of 101 somatometric landmarks were digitized as two-dimensional coordinates from three views: facial, front and back full-body view. These image sets were analyzed
separately by means of geometric morphometric methodology (GMM). Attractiveness ratings of the face and body were significantly associated with both (i) the amount of fluctuating asymmetry (as a measure of developmental stability), and (ii) specific localized shape differences in regions of known estrogen sens
itivity. The results support the notion that ratings of women’s physical attractiveness are indeed based on indicators of developmental stability and physiological status.