Women’s Hips Like A Drug To Men
New research by Steven Platek and Devendra Singh suggest that men have no choice but to lust after women’s hypnotic hips.
A women’s waist-hip-ratio WHR is a secondary sexual characteristic which has been shown to be a marker of fertility, fecundity, to offer neurodevelopmental resources in offspring, and overall health. In other words, WHR is a phenotypic cue to “good genes” in women. The optimal measure for WHR has been shown to be between 0.6-0.7 where the waist is 30-40% smaller than the hips (including the buttocks).
In the study, 14 men were scanned using fMRI when viewing seven nude female bodies prior to, and then after, elective cosmetic surgery to improve WHR.
Results found that the more optimal WHR produced signals in the forebrain substrates, notably in the nucleus accumbens, a forebrain nucleus highly involved in reward processing. Changes in brain activity were also found in the anterior cingulate cortex, an area also associated with reward processing and decision-making. Changes in BMI were not significant in their affect and only produced brain activation in areas associated with simple visual evaluations of shape and size. In other words, the WHR and not BMI was associated with reward.
“These findings suggest that an hourglass figure (i.e., an optimal WHR) activates brain centers that drive appetitive sociality/attention toward females that represent
the highest-quality reproductive partners,” say the researchers. “This is the first description of a neural correlate implicating WHR as a putative honest biological signal of female reproductive viability and its effects on men’s neurological processing.”
The results are not terribly surprising, although they do provide us with solid empirical evidence that men’s preferences are hardwired and not under their direct control. If it is true that WHR is something programmed deep in the male brain, then it is something that is deeply desired, not unlike a drug.
Platek, Steven M. and Devendra Singh. Optimal Waist-to-Hip Ratios in Women Activate Neural Reward Centers in Men. PLoS ONE. 2010. 5(2): e9042.