The Role of Body Posture in Perceptions of Attractiveness and Self-Esteem

Tzschaschel, E. (Macquarie University), Stephens, I. (Macquarie University)

Attractiveness is hypothesised as a mechanism for identifying healthy mates. Little is known about the impact of body posture on attractiveness. Participants (N=108) were photographed twice in profile in natural and corrected posture, and completed self-esteem questionnaires using three scales from the International Personality Item Pool (IPIP, 1992/2017): The Physical Attractiveness (Rational Scale; IPIP, 1992/2017; Goldberg et al., 2006), the Self-esteem scale (IPIP, 1992/2017; Rosenberg, 1965), and the Self-Consciousness (IPIP, 1992/2017; Buss, 1980) scale. Furthermore, the State Self-Esteem Scale (Heatherton & Polivy, 1991) was administered. In Study 1, a correlational design, 38 observers rated the attractiveness of the natural posture photographs. Those whose natural posture was more upright were perceived as more attractive and with higher self-esteem. A mediation analysis ascertained whether posture mediated the relationship between attractiveness and self-esteem, and showed that self-rated self-esteem predicts rated attractiveness and rated self-esteem as well as posture predict perceived self-esteem and attractiveness. The indirect effect of self-rated self-esteem on perceived attractiveness via posture was not significant. In Study 2, an experimental design, 41 observers completed a forced-choice task, choosing upright posture as more attractive and higher self-esteem. Possible explanations for the perception of upright posture as attractive and high in self-esteem are discussed.

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Body Image