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Does Ecological Harshness Influence Men’s Perceptions of Women’s Breast Size, Ptosis, and Intermammary Distance?

Abstract

Breasts are sexually dimorphic physical characteristics, and they are enlarged post-puberty suggesting that they have been driven by sexual selection to signal fertility and residual reproductive value. Although different hypotheses have attempted to explain why men are attracted to women’s breasts, the role that ecology plays in men’s perceptions of women’s breasts has been limited. The current study used an ecologically harsh prime to investigate if ecological harshness influenced men’s perceptions of women’s breast size, ptosis (i.e., sagginess), and intermammary distance. Men were primed with an ecological harsh prime (i.e., economy uncertainty) and asked to rate women whose breast size, ptosis, and intermammary distance (i.e., cleavage) had been manipulated. Ecological harshness only influenced men’s perceptions of women’s breasts for reproductive success. Overall, men rated women with larger breasts as more attractive, fertile, healthier, reproductively successful, and likely to befriend. The study contributes to the overall literature on men’s perceptions of women’s breasts and suggests that ecological harshness may influence men's perceptions of women's reproductive success.

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Correspondence to Ray Garza.

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Garza, R., Pazhoohi, F. & Byrd-Craven, J. Does Ecological Harshness Influence Men’s Perceptions of Women’s Breast Size, Ptosis, and Intermammary Distance?. Evolutionary Psychological Science 7, 174–183 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40806-020-00262-w

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s40806-020-00262-w

Keywords

  • Breasts
  • Attractiveness
  • Mate-Selection
  • Ecology