Humans are not fooled by size illusions in attractiveness judgements

Bateson, Melissa, Tovee, Martin, George, Hannah, Gouws, Anton and Cornelissen, Piers (2014) Humans are not fooled by size illusions in attractiveness judgements. Evolution and Human Behavior, 35 (2). pp. 133-139. ISSN 1090-5138

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2013.11.0...

Abstract

Could signallers use size contrast illusions to dishonestly exaggerate their attractiveness to potential mates? Using composite photographs of women from three body mass index (BMI) categories designed to simulate small groups, we show that target women of medium size are judged as thinner when surrounded by larger women than when surrounded by thinner women. However, attractiveness judgements of the same target women were unaffected by this illusory change in BMI, despite small true differences in the BMIs of the target women themselves producing strong effects on attractiveness. Thus, in the context of mate choice decisions, the honesty of female body size as a signal of mate quality appears to have been maintained by the evolution of assessment strategies that are immune to size contrast illusions. Our results suggest that receiver psychology is more flexible than previously assumed, and that illusions are unlikely to drive the evolution of exploitative neighbour choice in human sexual displays.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Published online 1 December 2013.
Uncontrolled Keywords: mate choice, sexual selection, physical attractiveness, Body mass index, ebbinghaus illusion, size-contrast illusion
Subjects: C800 Psychology
Department: Faculties > Health and Life Sciences > School of Life Sciences > Psychology
Depositing User: Ay Okpokam
Date Deposited: 06 Jan 2014 09:53
Last Modified: 29 Jan 2016 10:36
URI: http://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/15004

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