Journal Title

Evolution & Human Behavior

Publication Date



Does women’s body attractiveness predict indices of reproductive capacity? Prior research has provided evidence that large breast size and low waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) are positively associated with women’s estrogen and progesterone concentrations, but no previous studies appear to have directly tested whether ratings of women's body attractiveness are predicted by higher concentrations of ovarian hormones measured across broad regions of the menstrual cycle. Here, we collected daily saliva samples across 1–2 menstrual cycles from a sample of young women; assayed the samples for estradiol, progesterone, and testosterone; obtained anthropometric measurements of the women’s bodies; and also obtained attractiveness ratings of the women’s bodies from photographs of them taken in standardized clothing with faces obscured. Contrary to previous research, mean hormone concentrations were uncorrelated with breast size and WHR. Body mass index (BMI) was a very strong negative predictor of body attractiveness ratings, similar to previous findings. Zero-order associations between women’s mean hormone concentrations and mean attractiveness ratings were not significant; however, after controlling for BMI, attractiveness ratings were independently and positively associated with both estradiol and testosterone concentrations. Discussion focuses on the implications of these findings for whether attractiveness assessment mechanisms are specialized for the detection of cues of differential fecundity in young women’s bodies.

Author Supplied Keywords

Body attractiveness, Estradiol, Testosterone, Progesterone, BMI, Waist-to-hip ratio


Body image in women; Hormones--Analysis; Hormones--Physiological effect

Publication Information

Evolution and Human Behavior, 2014, Volume 35, Issue 3, 176-183.

© 2014 Elsevier

Archived version is the accepted manuscript.





Document Type

Journal Article