ПОД- СЕКЦИЯ 7. Социальная психология. 

D.V. Pogontseva

PhD, senior lecturer in social psychology, the psychology department

 Southern Federal University


The paper examines the theoretical and empirical research on gender studies various aspects of beauty. This article provides an analysis of some European and American Studies, as well as the results of empirical research conducted by us. The study involved 304 women who appreciate personal characteristics, characteristics of physical appearance and gender characteristics of the "beautiful woman".

Keywords: gender identity, feminine gender identity, gender identity is masculine, androgynous gender identity, beauty and outer beauty.


In today's world there is a special kind of problems which, because of its topicality and active reflection in the practice of everyday life, raise a genuine public interest. For one of these problems in recent times include the various aspects of beauty. In modern foreign studies raised the problem of physical beauty, which in turn overlaps with such concepts as "body image", the image I, attractiveness of appearance, self-esteem and self-perception. It should also be noted that in most studies, the object of study are women and female body, this is due to the fact that the beauty industry in most cases designed for the female audience (Spa - salons, fitness centers, cosmetics, plastic surgery, promotion of healthy lifestyle and diet supply). Every second advertisement shows the modern "ideals of beauty", the standards to be pursued. Therefore, in modern Europe and America can provide a whole area of social-psychological, medical and psychological studies on a framework the concept of "beauty" and the behavior of women, due to their desire to achieve this standard. As shown in several studies [2, 3, 9] the beauty of this feature, which affects all aspects of life. Especially important beauty, especially feminine beauty, is in inter-personal assessments and in the formation of stereotypes. The attractive appearance of a person, as defined by the dominant society in the age-and gender-status-role constructs. But not in one of the current work does not raise the problem of inner beauty, inner filling of some fashionable options. While still in the works of ancient Greek philosophers and the problems of external and internal, especially when a person becomes the object of knowledge. Thus, we have become the problem of describing the beauty that reflects the "inner" through the "external". Every age, every generation has its own view of beauty and ideas about inner and outer beauty. However, at the present stage of development of society "internal" are increasingly pushed into the background.

Analyzing the contemporary Russian and foreign empirical studies, we can say, that the contested assessment is the relationship of beauty with different qualities of appearance and behavior stereotypes. For example: the familiar faces rated as more beautiful, thin rated as more beautiful, beautiful people are more pronounced secondary sexual characteristics (markers of sex hormones), is considered more beautiful smiling people. In addition to this beautiful assessed more positively, they are considered more intelligent, successful, educated, honest, they often give a "second chance" at school and at university he put the scores above. On the one hand, one can distinguish a number of characteristics that are attributed to a more beautiful people, the other is still not clear content of such term as "inner beauty" and "outer beauty".

However, speaking about gender, it should be noted that gender is not limited to the concept of a role or set of roles prescribed by society on the basis of sex in this study appears as the notion of gender display, introduced by I. Hoffmann. Gender display, ie diversity of cultural norms, which are manifested in social interaction, in the aspect of advertising representation is presented as prescribed by the society of mass consumption methods of coding floor. It is interesting how the pragmatic norms of beauty, fixing the aesthetic functions of women are related to negative stereotypes related to the female beauty and still have not lost their power. For example, beauty is often perceived as something bad is compatible with the authority, competence and leadership activities. On the other hand, if a woman will neutralize their appearance, then it is less than professional quality notice [1].

In the modern world in many areas of life there is a manifestation of gender intolerance or sexism. The problems of sexism in the beds of gender stereotypes, tolerance, engineering psychology and the psychology of management, family problems as well is quite understood. However, the problem of external attractiveness / beauty and its evaluation in terms of refraction through the prism of gender stereotypes and sexism are still remained unexplored, despite the fact that this issue is relevant in many areas of our lives (from job to find a mate).

However, despite the fact that psychologists have long studied various aspects of sexism, they do not address the issue of gender inequality in psychological research. Especially clearly this issue can be seen in the studies devoted to the study of stereotypes about the external image of attractive, beautiful women. In considering this issue, we turned to foreign sources devoted to the study of problems related to outwardly beautiful woman, and determining what should be a beautiful woman.

The perception of women and assessment of her as beautiful in appearance depending on a number of objective and subjective factors. Objective factor perception and assessment - are the formal parameters of the exterior of a woman (the symmetry of the face, body proportions). To assess the woman's appearance can affect socio-cultural factors: cultural, national, religious, and others. Social and psychological factors: the idea of a beautiful woman looks, the story of relationships, attitudes toward self, different kinds of identity, including gender. Are individual factors: gender and age as the subject and object perception. The psychological factors may include the status of the subject of perception, particularly of his consciousness, etc. However, an analysis of modern studies of this problem shows that about 78% of the studies on the problem of the construction and interpretation of images of feminine beauty held men - researchers, research participants, as are men. Only 25% of the problem has been studied gender differences in the design and interpretation of images of feminine beauty. Only in a few studies (conducted mainly by women) considered the problem of the construction and interpretation of images of female beauty in other women. Almost all studies are the subject of study women and the female body, due to the fact that the beauty industry in most cases designed for the female audience (Spa - salons, fitness centers, cosmetics, plastic surgery). Every second advertisement shows the modern "ideals of beauty", the standards to be pursued.

B. Levy, D. Ariely, N. Mazar, Won Chi, S. Lukas, I. Elman investigated the effect of gender on the external evaluation of attractiveness [4]. The result of their research was the conclusion that men prefer longer seen pictures of women having a beautiful exterior appearance, while women spend the same amount of time for looking beautiful both male and female persons. The authors of this study indicate that this is due to the fact that when looking at the beautiful faces of men and women involved different parts of the brain. At the same time the most active men that part of the cerebral cortex, which is adjacent to the "pleasure center", which is due to irradiation - is also activated, whereas in women, these zones are separated. Thus, the authors suggest that men see photos of beautiful women for longer time, because it gives them pleasure, while women pictures of beautiful people do not cause such strong emotions.  In turn, D. Hamermesh and E. Parker (2005) investigated the relationship of students and their appearance ratings. They found that students whose teachers feel like having a beautiful exterior appearance, have higher educational evaluation [3]. This pattern is more characteristic of men than for women - teachers. The authors also emphasize that the assessment in some cases does not depend on the level of knowledge and underestimated or overestimated (on average by 0.5 - 1 point), depending on the external appearance of the student and the teacher's attitude towards him. For its part, the students did not notice this trend, noting that all the estimates are put deserved. In the second phase, in which students were asked, it was also revealed that such an opinion on the validity of the estimates, due to the fact that students also tend to think that beautiful people are more intelligent, and therefore deserve higher ratings. Thus, D. Hamermesh and E. Parker [3] also noted the influence of the stereotype "that is beautiful - it's good" for everyday life and raises the issue of "positive discrimination". Most often in the literature as positive discrimination (positive discrimination) is understood - a way to give the opportunity to participate in public life to those who for one reason or another turned out to be disadvantaged. However, in this paper, a positive discrimination, the authors understand the activation of the stereotype "that is beautiful - it's good", which artificially inflates an assessment of intellectual abilities. In turn, V. Swami, A. Furnham, Ch. Georgiades, L. Pang (2007) considered the problem of evaluating a beautiful appearance from the point of view - gender-specific [6]. Their study involved 72 men and 83 women who rated their own prettiness and beauty of the opposite sex. In the course of this study were as follows: men and women describe persons of the opposite sex as more beautiful, while the average self-esteem outer beauty of women, in general, lower than in men. Thus, the authors note that there are gender differences in estimates of external beauty. A difference in the estimates of its beauty and outer beauty of the opposite sex due to the fact that the participants in this study had relatively high self-esteem, which in turn affected the unrealistically high estimates an attractive partner. However, if the last statement is correct, one could also expect that the self-outer beauty will be much higher than average, but it is not.

Tovee M.J., Swami V., (1997) tried to prove that the feeling of hunger may affect the preferences of the female body weight, using his photographs of women with a known weight and body shape [8]. They showed that 30 hungry male participants preferred pictures of women with higher body weight and rated them as more attractive women than 31 well-fed male participant.

U. and Ch. Toyschers investigated the problem of age and "double standard" assessment of the external beauty of [7]. They found that older women assessed as less beautiful than older men. The authors suggest that this is largely due to the influence of advertising and media than with objective indicators. U. and Ch. Toyscher’s [7], note that the modern idea of beauty includes the stereotype of the "beautiful can only be young," especially the stereotype affects the evaluation of women of all ages. Thus, comparing estimates the external appearance of the beauty of older men and women, we see a clearly marked differences. L. Sugiyama  has revealed that men prefer women with low keffitsienta WHR (figure - hourglass), and assessed as less attractive - fat women [5]. The author notes that his findings are not revolutionary, but once again emphasize that this indicator is important to assess the woman's outer beauty, as this indicator is a marker for women's health.

It should also be noted, and the other side of the issue, several studies have indicated the nature of feminism, that women tend to these "ideals" and the standards solely due to the fact that the men would like. Thus, in one study showed that physical attractiveness - a feature that affects all aspects of life. A particularly important role attractiveness plays in interpersonal evaluations and in the formation of stereotypes. White D.S. in his study dealt with the problem of the perception of women with cosmetic changes to various indicator of physical beauty [9]. It is found that the deviation from the normal weight (weight of overweight or too low) self-esteem affects the visual attractiveness in women, but does not affect self-esteem of men. At the same time, she was unable to identify the relationship between visual appeal and the desire to change their appearance through plastic surgery. In all groups (divide by weight (normal, above, below norms) and self-beauty appearance) were those who wanted to change their appearance through plastic surgery and those who did not intend to resort to cosmetic changes. In addressing obesity, White D.S. [9] notes that the media portrayed women very often, of which 69% of women are thin, while only 5% are overweight. DS White [9] also notes that 80% of patients of plastic surgeons - fat women. These statistics suggest that many women are turning to expensive surgical procedures seem to increase their appeal in hopes of getting a more positive evaluations from others. However, we must consider whether cosmetic changes affect these interpersonal evaluation. Moreover, in its study [9] demonstrated that the external appearance of the beauty ratings were significantly higher before liposuction (fat removal by a vacuum pump is used mainly in the abdomen, buttocks and thighs) than after liposuction. Thus, DS White [9] notes that the desire of women to change due to plastic surgery does not always give a positive result.

The idea of the manifestation of sexism in the design and beautiful appearance interpretation was also denied by a group of American scientists (Bergstorm RL, Neighbors C., Lewis MA, 2004), who conducted a study to determine whether or not the modern ideal of a handsome appearance (very thin models) like men [2]. In their study, they showed pictures of women with different figures of men and women. In the course of the study they found that women consider the ideal thin figure is much more than they really are like men. Thus, they refute the argument that "women lose weight because of the men", emphasizing the falsity of the stereotype. Moreover, R. Bergstorm, C. and M. Lewis Neygbors [2] noted that women themselves create, distribute and support this stereotype in the media, advertising, and especially in the women's media, which in turn may influence the choice of men.

Thus, the assessment of the individual as having a beautiful exterior appearance, according to foreign studies, influenced by a number of parameters, including physical parameters: height, weight, waist and hips (individually and their ratio), shoe size, etc . etc.; social parameters: the characteristic personality description (character, conduct, etc.), sociological data: material wealth, social class, etc., ethnic stereotypes, for example: in Africa - a synonym for the fullness of beauty, Europe - the disease, the psychological characteristics: a set of stereotypes and attitudes (the influence of the media and parents, gender identity).
But that would not only address the problem of "external" and "inner beauty" we have carried out a study aimed at gender-specific attribution of a beautiful woman of different gender characteristics.

In our study involved 304 women aged 18 to 56 years. The study participants were offered a procedure for studying gender identity (MIGI) to adapt Burakova M. (2000), we used this technique to study the representations of the respondents of masculinity and femininity beautiful woman, as well as to determine the gender identity of study participants. It is a semantic differential of 30 points - 10 points in the scales of masculinity, femininity, and 10 points - neutral characteristics. Each item is scored on a 7-point scale. Based on the number of points scored on scales of masculinity and femininity, gender identity is determined by the form of a beautiful woman.

During data analysis, we divided the sample into four groups according to the type of gender identity of participants: 51% have a feminine (polotipichnoy) gender identity, 21% of androgynous gender identity, masculine 19% and 9% are not differentiated gender identity.

Analysis of gender identity and attributed to a beautiful woman identified four groups according to each type of gender identity: 63% of the feminine (sex-tipical) gender identity, 21% of androgynous gender identity, 11% masculine, and 5% are not differentiated gender identity

We also compared the distribution of the type of gender identity attributed to a beautiful woman - women with different types of gender identity. So a woman with undifferentiated gender identity attribute a beautiful woman: 36% - feminine identity, 28% undifferentiated, 21% androgynous, 15% of the masculine gender identity. Women with masculine gender identity is credited with a beautiful woman: 35% - feminine identity, 32% androgynous, 23% of the masculine gender identity, 10% undifferentiated. Women with an androgynous gender identity is credited with a beautiful woman: 61% - feminine identity, 28% of the androgynous, 11% of the masculine gender identity. Women with a feminine gender identity is credited with a beautiful woman: 79% - feminine identity, 13% androgynous, 6% of masculine gender identity, and 2% undifferentiated.
In the correlation analysis, we found an inverse correlation between the age of study participants, and these characteristics describe a beautiful woman, as analytical thinking (r = -0,11; p <0,05); charming (r = -0,12; p < 0.05), acting as a leader (r = -0,27; p <0,05); willing to take risks (r = -0,34; p <0,05); possessing leadership qualities (r = -0 , 31; p <0,05); assertive (r = -0,24; p <0,05); independent (r = -0,25; p <0,05); dominant (r = -0,17 ; p <0,05); sincere (r = -0,15; p <0,05); indifferent (r = -0,19; p <0,05); optional (r = -0,13; p <0.05), masculine (r = -0,29; p <0,05). Thus, the older study participants less often they describe a beautiful woman both analytically minded, charming, acting as a leader, ready to take risks, possessing leadership skills, assertive, independent, dominant, sincere, indifferent; optional; masculine. Also, the older trial participants, the more often they describe themselves as feminine (r = 0,13; p <0,05).

We also had the quartil-procedure, highlighting those features that are included in the top quartile of representations of themselves and of a beautiful woman, that is, rated as most important. Thus, in describing himself in the top quartile were features such as: clean, friendly, loving, sincere, feminine, charming, fair, sympathetic. In the upper quartile of the description of a beautiful woman includes such features as a charming, feminine, happy, pure, loving, friendly and self-sufficient. Thus, the common characteristics are: a charming, feminine, friendly, clean and loving.

Based on an analysis of our data we can say that regardless of the gender identity of the subject of evaluation, a beautiful woman as the object of evaluation often is described as having a feminine gender identity, at least - androgynous. Moreover, the older subjects of estimation, the more important, they are called feminine characteristics, "a beautiful woman".


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