Predictors of enhancing human physical attractiveness: data from 93 countries

Marta Kowal*, Piotr Sorokowski, Katarzyna Pisanski, Jaroslava V. Valentova, Marco A.C. Varella, David A. Frederick, Laith Al-Shawaf, Felipe E. García, Isabella Giammusso, Biljana Gjoneska, Luca Kozma, Tobias Otterbring, Marietta Papadatou-Pastou, Gerit Pfuhl, Sabrina Stöckli, Anna Studzinska, Ezgi Toplu-Demirtaş, Anna K. Touloumakos, Bence E. Bakos, Carlota BatresSolenne Bonneterre, Johanna Czamanski-Cohen, Jovi C. Dacanay, Eliane Deschrijver, Maryanne L. Fisher, Caterina Grano, Dmitry Grigoryev, Pavol Kačmár, Mikhail V. Kozlov, Efisio Manunta, Karlijn Massar, Joseph P. McFall, Moises Mebarak, Maria Rosa Miccoli, Taciano L. Milfont, Pavol Prokop, Toivo Aavik, Patrícia Arriaga, Roberto Baiocco, Jiří Čeněk, Hakan Çetinkaya, Izzet Duyar, Farida Guemaz, Tatsunori Ishii, Julia A. Kamburidis, Hareesol Khun-Inkeeree, Linda H. Lidborg, Hagar Manor, Ravit Nussinson, Mohd Sofian B. Omar-Fauzee, Farid Pazhoohi, Koen Ponnet, Anabela Caetano Santos, Oksana Senyk, Ognen Spasovski, Mona Vintila, Austin H. Wang, Gyesook Yoo, Oulmann Zerhouni, Rizwana Amin, Sibele Aquino, Merve Boğa, Mahmoud Boussena, Ali R. Can, Seda Can, Rita Castro, Antonio Chirumbolo, Ogeday Çoker, Clément Cornec, Seda Dural, Stephanie J. Eder, Nasim Ghahraman Moharrampour, Simone Grassini, Evgeniya Hristova, Gözde Ikizer, Nicolas Kervyn, Mehmet Koyuncu, Yoshihiko Kunisato, Samuel Lins, Tetyana Mandzyk, Silvia Mari, Alan D.A. Mattiassi, Aybegum Memisoglu-Sanli, Mara Morelli, Felipe C. Novaes, Miriam Parise, Irena Pavela Banai, Mariia Perun, Nejc Plohl, Fatima Zahra Sahli, Dušana Šakan, Sanja Smojver-Azic, Çağlar Solak, Sinem Söylemez, Asako Toyama, Anna Wlodarczyk, Yuki Yamada, Beatriz Abad-Villaverde, Reza Afhami, Grace Akello, Nael H. Alami, Leyla Alma, Marios Argyrides, Derya Atamtürk, Nana Burduli, Sayra Cardona, João Carneiro, Andrea Castañeda, Izabela Chałatkiewicz, William J. Chopik, Dimitri Chubinidze, Daniel Conroy-Beam, Jorge Contreras-Garduño, Diana Ribeiro da Silva, Yahya B. Don, Silvia Donato, Dmitrii Dubrov, Michaela Duračková, Sanjana Dutt, Samuel O. Ebimgbo, Ignacio Estevan, Edgardo Etchezahar, Peter Fedor, Feten Fekih-Romdhane, Tomasz Frackowiak, Katarzyna Galasinska, Łukasz Gargula, Benjamin Gelbart, Talia Gomez Yepes, Brahim Hamdaoui, Ivana Hromatko, Salome N. Itibi, Luna Jaforte, Steve M.J. Janssen, Marija Jovic, Kevin S. Kertechian, Farah Khan, Aleksander Kobylarek, Maida Koso-Drljevic, Anna Krasnodębska, Valerija Križanić, Miguel Landa-Blanco, Alvaro Mailhos, Tiago Marot, Tamara Martinac Dorcic, Martha Martinez-Banfi, Mat Rahimi Yusof, Marlon Mayorga-Lascano, Vita Mikuličiūtė, Katarina Mišetić, Bojan Musil, Arooj Najmussaqib, Kavitha Nalla Muthu, Jean C. Natividade, Izuchukwu L.G. Ndukaihe, Ellen K. Nyhus, Elisabeth Oberzaucher, Salma S. Omar, Franciszek Ostaszewski, Ma Criselda T. Pacquing, Ariela F. Pagani, Ju Hee Park, Ekaterine Pirtskhalava, Ulf Dietrich Reips, Marc Eric S. Reyes, Jan P. Röer, Ayşegül Şahin, Adil Samekin, Rūta Sargautytė, Tatiana Semenovskikh, Henrik Siepelmeyer, Sangeeta Singh, Alicja Sołtys, Agnieszka Sorokowska, Rodrigo Soto-López, Liliya Sultanova, William Tamayo-Agudelo, Chee-Seng Tan, Gulmira T. Topanova, Merve Topcu Bulut, Bastien Trémolière, Singha Tulyakul, Belgüzar N. Türkan, Arkadiusz Urbanek, Tatiana Volkodav, Kathryn V. Walter, Mohd Faiz Mohd Yaakob, Marcos Zumárraga-Espinosa

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Abstract

People across the world and throughout history have gone to great lengths to enhance their physical appearance. Evolutionary psychologists and ethologists have largely attempted to explain this phenomenon via mating preferences and strategies. Here, we test one of the most popular evolutionary hypotheses for beauty-enhancing behaviors, drawn from mating market and parasite stress perspectives, in a large cross-cultural sample. We also test hypotheses drawn from other influential and non-mutually exclusive theoretical frameworks, from biosocial role theory to a cultural media perspective. Survey data from 93,158 human participants across 93 countries provide evidence that behaviors such as applying makeup or using other cosmetics, hair grooming, clothing style, caring for body hygiene, and exercising or following a specific diet for the specific purpose of improving ones physical attractiveness, are universal. Indeed, 99% of participants reported spending >10 min a day performing beauty-enhancing behaviors. The results largely support evolutionary hypotheses: more time was spent enhancing beauty by women (almost 4 h a day, on average) than by men (3.6 h a day), by the youngest participants (and contrary to predictions, also the oldest), by those with a relatively more severe history of infectious diseases, and by participants currently dating compared to those in established relationships. The strongest predictor of attractiveness-enhancing behaviors was social media usage. Other predictors, in order of effect size, included adhering to traditional gender roles, residing in countries with less gender equality, considering oneself as highly attractive or, conversely, highly unattractive, TV watching time, higher socioeconomic status, right-wing political beliefs, a lower level of education, and personal individualistic attitudes. This study provides novel insight into universal beauty-enhancing behaviors by unifying evolutionary theory with several other complementary perspectives.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)455-474
Number of pages20
JournalEvolution and Human Behavior
Volume43
Issue number6
Early online date6 Sep 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 30 Nov 2022

Keywords

  • appearance
  • evolutionary theory
  • mating market perspective
  • pathogen stress
  • self-modification
  • social media usage

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