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An empirical analysis of the perception of beauty, gender and form
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Gender, form and beauty are intricately related. Furthermore, the perception of these distinguishing characteristics is essential for human communication. In an effort to further understand their meaning and importance, certain aspects of these complex attributes, which traditionally have been explored by architectural theorists, artists and evolutionary psychologists are investigated. To examine explicitly whether the perception of gender is a function of geometry, three tests were conducted. For Experiment 1, 51 college-age participants, both male and female, rated fifty-two line drawings of geometric shapes on two 10-point unipolar construct scales. Shapes were individually presented via a slide projection system. Overall, it was anticipated that participants would perceive masculine and feminine gender characteristics within the simple geometric shapes. In addition, it was expected that curved or rounded shapes would be rated as most feminine and linear and rectilinear shapes would be rated as most masculine. The results are consistent with both hypotheses and support the notion that perceived gender and form are closely related. To examine whether attractiveness and fecundity are functions of either waist-to-hip ratio (WHR), or the independent variables of waist size, hip size or body weight, 136 college-age participants, both male and female, rank ordered line drawings of female figures in two separate studies. For Experiment 2A, twelve figures, representing four levels of WHR and three levels of body weight were used as the stimulus set. For Experiment 2B, twenty-seven figures, representing five levels of WHR and three levels of body weight served as the stimulus set. In general, for Experiment 2A, it was anticipated that participants would perceive female scares with lower WHRS and body weights to be ranked as most attractive and fecund. Results are consistent with this notion. However, even though the WHR hypothesis had merit, it was suspected that in Experiment 2B other independent effects, such as hip size, may be more significant predictors of attractiveness and fecundity. Alternatively, results for Experiment 2B support this notion by showing that hip size, followed by body weight, are more reliable predictors of attractiveness and fecundity than WHR. Furthermore, positive relationships between attractiveness and fecundity found in Experiment 2A was changed to a negative relationship in Experiment 2B.
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Includes bibliographical references: p. 81-83.
Issued also on microfiche from Lange Micrographics.
Hansen, Kristi Ann (1996). An empirical analysis of the perception of beauty, gender and form. Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from
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