Different impacts of resources on opposite sex ratings of physical attractiveness by males and females

Guanlin Wang, Minxuan Cao, Justina Sauciuvenaite, Ruth Bissland, Megan Hacker, Catherine Hambly, Lobke M. Vaanholt, Chaoqun Niu, Mark D. Faries, John R. Speakman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)
9 Downloads (Pure)


Parental investment hypotheses regarding mate selection suggest that human males should seek partners featured by youth and high fertility. However, females should be more sensitive to resources that can be invested on themselves and their offspring. Previous studies indicate that economic status is indeed important in male attractiveness. However, no previous study has quantified and compared the impact of equivalent resources on male and female attractiveness. Annual salary is a direct way to evaluate economic status. Here, we combined images of male and female body shape with information on annual salary to elucidate the influence of economic status on the attractiveness ratings by opposite sex raters in American, Chinese and European populations. We found that ratings of attractiveness were around 4 times more sensitive to salary for females rating males, compared to males rating females. These results indicate that higher economic status can offset lower physical attractiveness in men much more easily than in women. Neither raters' BMI nor age influenced this effect for females rating male attractiveness. This difference explains many features of human mating behavior and may pose a barrier for male engagement in low-consumption lifestyles.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)220-225
Number of pages6
JournalEvolution and Human Behavior
Issue number2
Early online date29 Dec 2017
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2018


  • Physical attractiveness
  • Economic status
  • Parental investment theory


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