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Gender And Attraction: A Cross Cultural Review Of The Literature

1975 words - 8 pages

Research indicates that culture has an impact on individuals’ preferential behaviors. These preferential processes are quite often involved in mate selection and mate attraction. One’s personality traits, ethnicity, and physical appearances are just a few of the ways that perceptions of attraction differ across cultures. Not only do these perceptions of attraction vary by culture, but these perceptions also vary by gender and play a huge role on what men and women deem as attractive. Because the concept of attraction is universal, it is understood that all cultures have the concept of attraction (Glazer, 2014). Research in evolutionary psychology indicates that there may be an innate, ...view middle of the document...

Although there are commonalities between genders on perceptions of some attractive traits, some researchers believe that people are attracted to individuals whom they have things in common. Using the similarity-attraction theory, Pornpitakpan (2003) found positive relationships between perceived cultural similarity and attraction. The similarity-attraction theory is defined by the strength of association between partners for certain variables including, but not limited to, age, education, race, religion, etc. Pornpitakpan explored whether personality traits affect the relationship between similarity and attraction through the evaluations of various ethnic groups and perceived similarity to their own group; a strong correlation was found. It was also found that similar personality traits in relation with attraction can affect more than an individual’s mate choice; it can also affect business outcomes.
Research indicates that thinness is a cultural ideal that is internalized more by women than men and that women have lower standards of attraction for the opposite sex, and higher standards for their own physical attractiveness cross-culturally. Haavio-Mannila & Purhonen (2001) define the relationship between body mass index and sexual attractiveness as the subjective feelings of perceptions of one’s own sexual attractiveness. Not only do men and women judge each other’s attraction differently, but they judge what factors deem them attractive as self. In Finland and St. Petersburg, body mass index (BMI) and sexual attractiveness have a stronger connection to women’s physical attractiveness than men. Having a prejudice toward thinness and against fatness is often a cultural prejudice directed towards women. In most Western societies, thinness is appreciated as an indicator or beauty, good health, self-discipline, and sexual attractiveness. Therefore, slim women consider themselves as more sexually attractive than bigger women.
Cultural influence is an important factor to discuss in relation to attraction. The cultural variations in self-care and grooming ideals illustrate the relative importance of aesthetics and attraction cross-culturally (Cunningham, Roberts, Barbee, Druen, & Wu, 1995). Some cultures believe health to denote of attractiveness, while others rely more on aesthetic as an indication of attractiveness. With an increased emphasis on healthy living in the modern age, images depicting fit bodies are not uncommon to be seen by most societies. Furnham and Lim (1997) studied the cross-cultural differences in the perception of male and female body shapes the function of exercise. Their research indicates that Singaporean participants related more positively with the muscular figures than did the British participants. The muscular figure was also rated as healthier to Singaporean participants. Cultural influences, such as Singapore’s strong governmental emphasis on healthy lifestyle may have influenced these findings; this reinforces the...

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