Viewing heavy bodies enhances preferences for facial adiposity

D. Re*, V. Coetzee, D. Xiao, D. Buls, B. Tiddeman, L. Boothroyd, D. Perrett

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Experience-dependent changes in mate choice preferences may confer an evolutionary benefit by shifting preferences towards traits that are advantageous for specific environments. Previous studies have demonstrated that prolonged exposure to one type of face biases perceptions of subsequently viewed faces and exposure to one type of body biases perceptions of subsequently viewed bodies. We tested whether preferences in facial adiposity were affected by viewing heavy or light bodies. We first assessed facial adiposity preferences by asking Caucasian participants (n = 59) to transform three-dimensional female Caucasian faces along a body mass index (BMI) continuum until they reached optimal attractiveness. Participants then viewed heavy- or light-bodied two-dimensional images with the faces cropped out before repeating the face preference task. Male and female participants who viewed heavy bodies shifted preferences toward significantly higher facial adiposity, while those who viewed the light bodies showed no significant overall shift. These results provide evidence that adaptation to certain body types affects subsequent preferences for facial adiposity, and suggest that adaptation to one body domain may affect preferences in other body domains.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)295-308
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Evolutionary Psychology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2011


  • 3-D faces
  • adaptation
  • after-effects
  • body mass index


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