Posted by: sepalot | October 17, 2008

The Playmate Indicator

There’s an interesting post on the Marginal Revolution about how ideals of beauty are related to economic and social conditions.

The Environmental Security Hypothesis states that

in tough times men will prefer women who are good at production, generally older, taller, heavier, less curvaceous women with less body fat.  In good times, they will prefer women who are good at reproduction, generally younger, shorter, lighter, more curvaceous women.

Pettijohn & Jungeberg (2004) now examine the relationship between facial and body characteristics of Playboy Playmates of the Year from 1960-2000 and the U.S. social and economic environment. They find that

Consistent with Environmental Security Hypothesis predictions, when social and economic conditions were difficult, older, heavier, taller Playboy Playmates of the Year with larger waists, smaller eyes, larger waist-to-hip ratios, smaller bust-to-waist ratios, and smaller body mass index values were selected.

Given the perspective of a long and nasty slump, I very much hope women are not aware of this hypothesis and trying to adapt to changing preferences…


  1. Managed to get the full article, let me know if you want it.

  2. Read most of the article: hardly any comments on guys. Would there be a similar relationship how women would prefer guys in difficult economic ties?

    In case you get stuck with your current topic Tobi you could use this one for you thesis.

  3. I would think that the market value of investment bankers hat plummeted (with banks but also with marriage-minded women). If anything, the demand for economists might have risen. Maybe we should ask Tobi to test this for us!?

  4. Why would economists be in higher demand? Because we tend to be “older, heavier, taller”? And I’m rather curious: how exactly would one go about testing the “demand” for oneself over time?

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