The Psychology of Physical Attraction
Routledge – 2008 – 248 pages
People have long been interested in the complexities of human beauty, but until recently the science of attractiveness was largely left to poets, playwrights, philosophers, and artists. This book begins the task of providing a scientific look at physical attraction, by offering an overview of scholarly work on physical beauty, culture, evolution and other aspects of human attractiveness.
The Psychology of Physical Attraction begins by discussing the role of evolution in the development of what it means to be 'attractive' in contemporary society. It provides a general overview of evolutionary psychology and mate choice, as well as an in-depth focus on physical characteristics such as physical symmetry, body weight and ratios, and youthfulness. The book goes on to explore the role of societal and cultural ideals of beauty through a discussion of the social psychology of human beauty. Finally, the "morality" of physical attractiveness is examined, looking at issues such as discrimination on the basis of looks, body image and eating disorders and cosmetic surgery.
Combining both evolutionary and social perspectives, this book offers a unique and comprehensive overview of the many debates involved in the science of physical attraction which ultimately allows for a better understanding of human beauty. It will be of interest to students and researchers in psychology, as well as anyone interested in the science of physical attractiveness.
"Physical appearance deeply influences our personal and social lives. In this compelling scientific story, the beauty of this volume shines as the authors illuminate the nature and nurture of physical attraction." - Thomas F. Cash, University Professor of Psychology, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, Virginia, USA
"The adroit selection of historical and literary quotations that begin each chapter presage the range and depth of coverage of the literature on physical attractiveness. This a scholarly treatment that will be of interest and accessible to a wide audience." - Professor Louis G Tassinary, Texas A&M University, USA
"Written in a very accessible style, the book is a good overview of the research in the area, and would be useful for anyone with an interest in beauty, appearance ideals and relationship formation." - Caroline Huxley, The Psychologist
Preface: The Difficulty of Being a Scientist-Interested-in-Physical-Attraction. What Pythagoras Unleashed Upon the World. What is Beautiful is Good. Darwin, Sexual Selection and the Peacock’s Tail. The Naked Woman and Man. Of Hourglasses and Triangles: Human Body Weight and Shape. The Venus of Willendorf, Rubens and Milking Huts. Welcome to the Mating Market. No One is an Island. What Future for Physical Attraction?
Viren Swami is an evolutionary and social psychologist. He is the author of academic papers on, among other things, interpersonal attraction, gender roles and cross-cultural differences. He is also the author of The Missing Arms of Vénus de Milo, and has translated works of literature by George Orwell, Jorge Luis Borges and Franz Kafka into Malay.
Adrian Furnham is an organisational and applied psychologist, management expert and Professor of Psychology at University College London. In addition to his academic roles, he is a consultant on organisational behaviour and management, writer and broadcaster. He is a prolific writer for both the popular and academic press, and one of the most quoted contemporary experts in his field.