Effect of model race and viewing perspective on body attractiveness and body size assessment in young Caucasian women: an eye-tracking study.

Research paper by Victoria V Rodway, Bethany B Tatham, Kun K Guo

Indexed on: 17 Dec '18Published on: 17 Dec '18Published in: Psychological research


Research has indicated that Caucasian women gaze more often at waist-hip and chest regions than other local body areas when assessing female body attractiveness and body size, and this stereotypical gaze distribution is further modulated by their own body satisfaction and body composition. However, little is known whether the model race and viewing perspective could affect women's body-viewing gaze behaviour and body perception. Here, we presented female body images of Caucasian, Asian and African avatars in a continuum of common dress sizes in full frontal, mid-profile and rear view, and asked young Caucasian women to rate the perceived body attractiveness and body size. Their body-viewing gaze distributions were then correlated with their behavioural responses, their own body composition and body satisfaction. Our analysis revealed a clear in-group favouritism, in which Caucasian women tended to rate Caucasian avatars more attractive and slimmer than Asian and African avatars. Their body-viewing gaze patterns, on the other hand, were not affected by avatar race but were modulated by viewing perspectives. The frontal-view body (especially upper-body and waist-hip regions) attracted the highest proportion of viewing time, followed by the mid-profile view and then the rear-view body. Furthermore, our participants' own body composition and satisfaction level did not affect their judgement of other women's body attractiveness and body size, but could influence their gaze allocation at local body features. It seems that both body perception and body-viewing gaze behaviour are subject to group and individual biases.