Home Society & Culture New Research Finds Racial and Gender Differences in What Body Parts People Find Most Attractive

New Research Finds Racial and Gender Differences in What Body Parts People Find Most Attractive

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New research using OkCupid data suggests facial features are the most important determinants of physical attraction for a majority of individuals.But cultural variations are prevalent, indicating an intricate interplay of preferences and societal influences. The findings were published in Psychreg Journal of Psychology.

An extensive study, which employed OkCupid’s freely available data from over 68,000 respondents, has shown that a significant majority (71%) prefer faces when assessing physical attractiveness. However, cultural background played a crucial role, with individuals of non-European heritage showing a greater preference for other body parts.

The study, which accounted for missing responses given the nature of OkCupid’s voluntary survey format, also analysed preferences for the lower body (“butt/legs”, 8%), chest (“chest/breasts”, 3%), and an ‘other’ category (18%). The study, conducted by researchers Edward Dutton and Emil Kirkegaard, relied on variables such as life history speed, sex, intelligence, and ethnicity.

Their analysis revealed interesting patterns. Women tended to favour faces, while individuals identifying as bisexual showed a greater interest in ‘other’ body parts. In terms of ethnic preferences, Whites, Indians, and Asians displayed a stronger inclination towards faces compared to other races.

The researchers found that slower life history speed, female sex, and higher intelligence predict a preference for faces. In contrast, lower intelligence, faster life history speed, and male sex were associated with an increased preference for lower body and chest. They noted that non-European ethnicities, specifically African, Hispanic, and Native American respondents, were more inclined towards lower body features.

Interestingly, intelligence played a significant role. The results showed that higher intelligence was a reliable positive predictor for men preferring faces. However, this was not the case for women, whose preference showed a slightly negative correlation with intelligence.

These findings provide critical insights into cultural differences in attraction, mating displays, and potential evolutionary explanations. Yet, the study acknowledges its limitations. The data, drawn from a dating site, primarily represents a younger demographic (mean age 31), lacking older adults. It’s also skewed towards individuals patient enough to answer hundreds of questions and those who actively seek dates online. Moreover, the data was predominantly from Western and English-speaking countries, potentially introducing a cultural bias.

Despite these limitations, the researchers believe that their findings are robust and contribute to the wider understanding of physical attraction and the factors influencing it. This study will likely spark further research in this field, paving the way for a more nuanced understanding of attraction across different cultures and demographic groups.

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