Categorical perception of human female physical attractiveness and health

Tovée, Martin J., Edmonds, Laura and Vuong, Quoc C. (2012) Categorical perception of human female physical attractiveness and health. Evolution and Human Behavior, 33 (2). pp. 85-93. ISSN 1090-5138

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Using realistic three-dimensional female body models, we found evidence for a categorical perception of female physical attractiveness and health in male and female Caucasian observers. In a rating task, we showed that these bodies were rated for attractiveness or health in the same way as real bodies. In a two-alternative forced-choice task, we showed that these bodies were categorized into attractive vs. unattractive or healthy vs. unhealthy nonlinearly, which allowed us to estimate the position of a categorical boundary between attractive and unattractive or healthy and unhealthy bodies. In a delayed match-to-sample task, we measured the sensitivity of discrimination between pairs of bodies. We found significantly better discrimination for pairs that crossed the attractive/unattractive or healthy/unhealthy boundary than pairs that did not, even though the physical changes in both conditions were identical. Thus, categorical perception enhances the perception of physical changes that cross the boundary between discrete perceptual categories of important judgments such as attractiveness or health, which can be a cue for mate selection.

Keywords:categorical perception, attractiveness, female bodies
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C800 Psychology
C Biological Sciences > C850 Cognitive Psychology
C Biological Sciences > C830 Experimental Psychology
C Biological Sciences > C841 Health Psychology
C Biological Sciences > C840 Clinical Psychology
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Psychology
ID Code:27608
Deposited On:07 Jun 2017 14:17

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