Men’s preferences for women’s breast size and shape in four cultures



Havlicek J, Trebicky V, Valentova JV, Kleisner K, Akoko RM, Fialova J, Jash R, Kocnar T, Pereira KJ, Sterbova Z, Varella MAC, Vokurkova J, Vunan E & Roberts SC (2017) Men’s preferences for women’s breast size and shape in four cultures. Evolution and Human Behavior, 38 (2), pp. 217-226.

The morphology of human female breasts typical for their permanent fat deposits appears to be unique among primates. It has been previously suggested that female breast morphology arose as a result of sexual selection. This is supported by evidence showing that women with larger breasts tend to have higher estrogen levels; breast size may therefore serve as an indicator of potential fertility. However, breasts become less firm with age and parity, and breast shape could thus also serve as a marker of residual fertility. Therefore, cross-culturally, males are hypothesized to prefer breast morphology that indicates both high potential and residual fertility. To test this, we performed a survey on men´s preferences for breast morphology in four different cultures (Brazil, Cameroon, the Czech Republic, Namibia). As stimuli, we used two sets of images varying in breast size (marker of potential fertility) and level of breast firmness (marker of residual fertility). Individual preferences for breast size were variable, but the majority of raters preferred medium sized, followed by large sized breasts. In contrast, we found systematic directional preferences for firm breasts across all four samples. This pattern supports the idea that breast morphology may serve as a residual fertility indicator, but offers more limited support for the potential fertility indicator hypothesis. Future studies should focus on a potential interaction between the two parameters, breast size and firmness, which, taken together, may help to explain the relatively large variation in women's breast sizes.

Permanent breasts; Mate preferences; Residual fertility; Nubility hypothesis; Mammary gland; Human evolution

Evolution and Human Behavior: Volume 38, Issue 2

Publication date31/03/2017
Publication date online19/10/2016
Date accepted by journal17/10/2016

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Professor Craig Roberts

Professor Craig Roberts

Professor of Social Psychology, Psychology

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