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Does hunger influence judgments of female physical attractiveness?


Correspondence should be addressed to Viren Swami, Department of Psychology, University College of London, 26 Bedford Way, London WC1E 6BT, UK (e-mail:


To account for male preferences for female body weight following a consistent socio-economic pattern, Nelson and Morrison (2005) proposed a social-cognitive model based on the individual experience of resource scarcity. We replicated their studies showing that calorific dissatisfaction can influence preference for female body weight using a different dependent variable, namely photographic stimuli of women with known body weight and shape. Using this revised methodology, we found that operationalized intra-individual resource scarcity affects preferences for body weight: 30 hungry male participants preferred figures with a higher body weight and rated as more attractive heavier figures than 31 satiated male participants. Hungrier men were also less likely to be influenced by cues for body shape, supporting extant cross-cultural studies on female physical attractiveness. These findings corroborate those of Nelson and Morrison (2005) and are discussed in terms of how cultural contexts shape individual psychological experience as predicted by the theory of mutual constitution.