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Durham University

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Publication details

Mo, J., Cheung, Kate W. K., Gledhill, Lucinda J., Pollet, Thomas V., Boothroyd, Lynda G. & Tovée, Martin J. (2014). Perceptions of Female Body Size and Shape in China, Hong Kong, and the United Kingdom. Cross-Cultural Research 48(1): 78-103.

Author(s) from Durham


Photographs of 50 women were rated for attractiveness, health, and fertility recorded by four sets of participants—Rural-Chinese (n = 50), Chinese participants in Hong Kong (n = 50), Chinese participants living in the United Kingdom (n = 50), and participants self-identifying as “Caucasian” living in the United Kingdom. The results suggest that a polynomial function of Body Mass Index (kg/m2) is the best predictor of all three judgments in all four observer groups. In contrast, shape cues, such as the waist-to-hip ratio (WHR), seem to play a relatively small role. Shape cues do consistently account for a greater proportion of the variance in all three Chinese groups than for the Caucasian participants, implying a greater role for shape in the Chinese participants’ judgments. This result may reflect the competing pressures between the healthy range for shape and body mass in the Chinese populations versus the role of visual diet in influencing body preferences in different cultural environments.