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Body Shape Impressions

The Influence of Body Shape on Impressions of Sexual Traits - Flora Oswald, Amanda Champion, & Cory L. Pedersen


The assumptions people make from body shape can have serious implications for the well-being of the
individuals inhabiting such bodies. Fat people are subject to pervasive and resilient social stigma and
discrimination, leading to negative mental and physical health outcomes, including negative sexuality-related
outcomes. Though previous studies have examined the personality traits attributed to, or the
sexual attractiveness of, varying body shapes, no research has asked participants to make attributions of
sexual traits to varying body shapes. The purpose of this study was thus to examine sexuality-related trait
inferences made from body shapes. Participants (N = 891, 70% women, Mage = 25.28) were randomly
assigned to view 5 computer-generated 3-dimensional body models of varying shapes developed using
the skinned multi-person linear model. Participants rated their sexual attraction to each body and the
degree to which each of 30 traits (10 personality and 20 sexual) applied. Results demonstrated that larger
bodies are generally viewed as less sexually attractive. Further, constellations of sexuality traits were
predicted reliably by body shape, demonstrating that people hold sexual stereotypes about a diverse
range of body shapes. This study provides an initial comprehensive demonstration of the sexuality specific
traits associated with varying body shapes.

Article published in the Journal of Sex Research

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