This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

The Role of Body Mass Index and Body Shape in Perception of Body Attractivness: Cross-Cultural Study




Aghekyan, Marine

Type of Degree



Consumer Affairs


The purpose of this study was to cross-culturally investigate the effect of BMI (Body Mass Index) and three body shapes (Rectangle, Pear, and Hourglass) on the perception of female body attractiveness and body size. A convenience sample of 107 American and 102 Russian female students between ages 18-over 25 participated in this study. A questionnaire coordinated with a stimulus presented in a Power Point format and composed of 27 images of body scans of women was used by respondents to rate body size and attractiveness. Body Mass Index (BMI) was used to categorize body sizes used in the stimulus as underweight, normal, and overweight. Three body shapes (hourglass, rectangle, and pear) were defined within the stimulus. All research questions were analyzed and answered. Both, American and Russian students tended to see themselves as more overweight and less underweight than in reality. The scores of respondents’ self-ratings and their perceptions of how others view their body image were generally similar for American and Russian students. Russian respondents reported lower scores on body attractiveness than American respondents for all 27 images. This research showed that overweight body scans were classified most correctly and were perceived as the most unattractive by both samples. Body scans with underweight BMIs were perceived as being the most attractive. There was a significant difference of perceptions of body sizes between Americans and Russians. There was no significant effect of body shapes on Americans’ and Russians’ perceptions of attractiveness. Perceptions of body sizes were significantly related to body shape categories for both American and Russian students. No relationship was found between the respondents’ personal BMI category and their perception of body size. There was a significant relationship between American respondent’s personal BMI categories and their perceptions of attractiveness. This relationship was not significant for Russian students.