Globalizing Evolution: Female Choice, Nationality, and Perception of “Sexual Beauty” in China

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An evolutionary perspective on physical attractiveness suggests that individuals find those characteristics associated with reproductive success attractive. Theory and existing data consistent with this view link perceptions of physical attractiveness to traits such as symmetry, status, and reproductive value. Here, we take this evolutionary perspective global to ask how do Chinese men and women rate the sexual beauty of East Asian compared with Caucasian models? We enlisted 74 Chinese men and women from Hohhot, a northern city, and Chengdu, a southern city, to rank photos of both Chinese and Caucasian male and female models obtained from Chinese magazines. We also elicited emic accounts for the ratings as complementary source of qualitative data. Results revealed that Chinese women ranked Caucasian male and female models as more attractive. Chinese men, however, did not differentially rank East Asian and Caucasian women, though they did rank Caucasian men as being more attractive. We suggest that, while an evolutionary novelty, a process of globalization can still be linked to potentially adaptive preferences for physical attractiveness, and call for more research in this vein.


Evolution; Globalization; Mate choice; Mate selection; Physical attractiveness


Anthropology | Biological and Physical Anthropology | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Social and Cultural Anthropology

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