Conceptualizing and measuring perceptions of sexual attractiveness: Are there differences across gender and sexual orientation?

Natalie Amos, Marita P. McCabe

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


There is no consistent conceptualization of sexual attractiveness in the literature. The present paper reviews previous literature on sexual attractiveness, examining the different terms used to refer to sexual attractiveness, as well as the measures designed to evaluate perceptions of sexual attractiveness. A new measure of self-perceptions of sexual attractiveness is proposed and psychometrically tested based on this material. The review of the literature demonstrates that there are multiple, often ambiguous, terms used in relation to sexual attractiveness, with few definitions provided. Additionally, there is no standardized measure of perceptions of sexual attractiveness. Single item measures are commonly used to assess an individual's perceptions of their own or of another's sexual attractiveness, and few studies provide a psychometric evaluation of the measures used. A clearer picture of sexual attractiveness is formed in this paper and, with this, a new scale measuring self-perceptions of sexual attractiveness is developed. The new scale is a valid and reliable measure of self-perceived sexual attractiveness that may be used among men and women who identify as heterosexual, gay, lesbian or bisexual. Furthermore, the findings suggest that sexual attractiveness may be conceptualized similarly across gender and sexual orientation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)111-122
Number of pages12
JournalPersonality and Individual Differences
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Definition
  • Gender
  • Measure
  • Sexiness
  • Sexual attractiveness
  • Sexual orientation

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