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Posted January 14, Reviewed by Matt Huston. Supposedly, consistent male preferences for a particular breast size feed claims that they reflect evolutionary adaptation. But any preferences may be largely or exclusively culturally determined, perhaps reflecting particular notions of female beauty peddled by Western media. Ninety-five I like a big girl with large breasts undergraduates rated paired images with different sizes of those body regions.
The main aim was to identify personality traits associated with preferences, but some interesting baseline information emerged. Although men rated large breasts as more attractive than small ones, moderate breast size was preferred over the largest presented. Subsequently, published attractiveness ratings for breast size yielded conflicting findings, with preferences for large, medium, or even small breasts reported. Overall, however, men predominantly rated medium-sized breasts highest.
Choosing between five different breast sizea third of men rated medium as most attractive. Only a quarter preferred large breasts and just one in 10 preferred very large breasts. They found that preferences for larger breasts were ificantly associated with greater tendencies towards "benevolent sexism ," objectification of women, and hostility towards them. Only cross-cultural studies can reveal responses that are consistent regardless of social norms and may perhaps have an evolutionary foundation.
A paper by Barnaby Dixson and colleagues explicitly addressed this key issue of variation across cultures. One clear finding was that men in Papua New Guinea showed a greater preference for larger breasts than New Zealanders, while Samoan men were intermediate. Intriguingly, preferences differed between unmarried and married men. In New Zealand, bachelors predominantly preferred a medium size while married men favored large breasts. Differences between cultures also emerged.
Although Samoan men showed a distinction between unmarried and married men like New Zealanders, they more strongly preferred larger breasts overall. Contrastingly, unmarried and married men differed little in Papua New Guinea; both predominantly preferred large breasts. Breast firmness declines with age and successive births, so the authors proposed that—whereas breast size in young women indicates potential fertility—breast firmness might indicate residual fertility thereafter.
They hypothesized that, across cultures, men would be expected to show preferences for both breast size and firmness which affects shape. Tests conducted with male raters used two sets of images, one with differing breast size and the other with various degrees of breast firmness. Although size preferences varied, most raters preferred medium breasts, with large following, providing cross-cultural confirmation that men generally prefer breasts of intermediate size. Complementary evidence comes from breast size in relation to hormone levels. They found a small but ificant positive association between large breasts and the female hormone oestradiol the dominant oestrogen.
Women with both large breasts and narrow waists had oestrogen levels about a third higher than those with other combinations. This difference might allow men to assess female reproductive potential. Research published in by Susan Lipson and Peter Ellison revealed that in women aiming for pregnancyoestradiol levels were ificantly higher in cycles where conception occurred.
Second, the Body Mass Index BMI; body weight divided by height squared was calculated to assess interactions with attractiveness. However, their sample size was markedly smaller, and test subjects were a decade younger. Yet one ificant finding did emerge: Attractiveness was negatively correlated with BMI.
When Grillot and colleagues allowed for this in analyses, a positive association between attractiveness scores and oestradiol levels was revealed. Regardless of sample differences, these two studies of female attractiveness in relation to hormone levels share a notable weakness in lacking effective cross-cultural comparison. Around the world, many women seek cosmetic surgery to modify breast size. Reportedly, the greatest demand exists in Brazil, but such interventions are very common elsewhere.
Fora total ofprocedures were recorded, up 4 percent over Note, however, that cosmetic breast modification can also involve reduction.
In both andapproximately 43, reductions for aesthetic reasons were recorded. But augmentations were seven times more common.
A paper by Elizabeth Didie and David Sarwer presented of a questionnaire-based survey of two dozen women who decided to undergo cosmetic breast augmentation. Comparison with a similar of women not seeking surgery confirmed of studies: Candidates for augmentation felt greater dissatisfaction with their breasts.
Yet women in the two groups did not differ with respect to overall dissatisfaction with their body images or awareness of sociocultural influences. Overall, women requesting augmentation were seemingly motivated primarily by their own feelings about their breasts. Direct or indirect external influences, such as expectations of romantic partners or socio-cultural representations of beauty, were less important. What matters is the increase in size during pregnancy. However, one key finding from a host of studies of female breast size is that men predominantly prefer medium size, not large.
This bears directly on the widespread demand for cosmetic breast augmentation. Various attempts have been made to link male preferences for female breast size to fertility indicators with some evolutionary function. But such preferences are too inconsistent across cultures to permit clear recognition of an evolutionary basis. Didie, E. Journal of Women's Health 12 Dixson, B. Archives of Sexual Behavio r 40 Archives of Sexual Behavior 40 — Grillot, R.
Groyecka, A. American Journal of Human Biology 29,e Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B Lipson, S. Human Reproduction 11 Swami, V. Archives of Sexual Behavior 42 Wiggins, J. Robert Martin, Ph. Robert D. Martin Ph. How We Do It. Across cultures, men do not consistently prefer large breasts. Top: I like a big girl with large breasts of test silhouettes used by Wiggins et al. Source: Top: Combined image adapted from a figure and data in Wiggins et al. Left: Test images of a female torso modified to have three different breast sizes small, medium, large.
The skin color has been adjusted to reflect local average conditions in the three populations. Right: Histograms showing breast size preferences shown by unmarried and married men in each test population. Source: Image combined and adapted from two figures in Dixson et al. Top: Test images of a female body modified to have three different breast sizes small, medium, largebased on originals from Dixson and colleagues.
Right: Histograms showing breast size preferences shown by men in each test population. Note that there is a predominant tendency towards a preference for medium-sized breasts, although Cameroon is an exception with large breasts rated higher.
Graph showing levels of the hormone oestradiol an oestrogen across the menstrual cycle in women with small or large breasts. Note that oestradiol levels tend to be higher in women with large breasts, especially in the second half of the cycle after ovulation.
Location in the cycle is indicated relative to the estimated time of ovulation Day 0. Top: Standard locations of breast implants. Left: subpectoral; Right: subglandular. Bottom: MRI image showing subpectoral silicone breast implants. Source: Both images from Wikimedia Commons. Top: Author: Dr. Roudner own work, Bottom: Author: Nevit Dilmen own work About the Author. Read Next. Back Psychology Today.
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