how a head for figures pays dividends

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 14 February, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 14 February, 2004, 12:00am

Ladies, don't fume the next time a man drools and looks you over from top to toe - he is actually doing torturous maths in his head.

Polytechnic University clothing expert Fan Jintu and his colleagues have worked out an attractiveness formula, and they think men unconsciously use it to size up members of the opposite sex.

According to the researchers, woman's attractiveness is measured by her volume in cubic metres divided by the square of her height. The Hong Kong team arrived at their indicator, called the volume height index (VHI), by asking 54 men and women to look at more than 30 three-dimensional rotating female silhouettes on a computer and to rate their attractiveness on a scale of one (least attractive) to nine (most attractive).

The scores were plotted on a graph and the team worked out the logarithm that best captured the graph as the VHI.

'It is the most important and direct visual determinant of female physical attractiveness,' Professor Fan writes in a recent issue of The Proceedings of the Royal Society in London.

Unfortunately, the researchers have declined to reveal what they think are the winning numbers. Sorry, girls, it's for research purposes only, the team says.