BEST IELTS General Reading Test 426

BEST IELTS General Reading Test 426

IELTS General Reading Test

Gender differences in human attraction

Section A

‘Boy meets girl’ is an age-old ritual in the human species, but scientists have for many years been trying to uncover the basis of human attraction. In simple terms, what is it that draws a man or woman to be attracted to someone of the opposite sex?

Section B

One of the most basic elements of attraction is the degree of symmetry that is perceived in the other person. Scientists have been scanning faces and bodies into computers for many years to determine symmetry ratios. Both men and women tend to rate symmetrical members of the opposite sex as more attractive and in better health than their less symmetrical counterparts. It has also been found that men with higher degrees of symmetry tend to have more partners than men of lower symmetry. Women, however, are more complex in terms of partner choice; besides symmetry, the behaviour of a potential partner who is competing for their attention is important for them.

IELTS General Reading Test

Section C

There are gender differences in other aspects of attraction as well. Men tend to be more interested in women who are youthful and physically attractive, even if what men find physically attractive varies from culture to culture. For example, some cultures value female fatness when courting women. Studies of the socioecological factors that determine attitudes toward fatness in women suggest that important factors include food security, type of climate, the degree of value placed on female work, and the relative social dominance of women. Countries like the USA have become obsessed with a slim physique.

Women have come to associate curvaceousness with incompetence. More classically “feminine” bodied women may have been considered less professional than men; consequently, those women now exhibit eating disorders. In other words, these eating disorders are not simply instances of psychopathology in women, but rather a manifestation of a societal bias against women. This bias has decreased enough to encourage women to strive in education and different professions, but has not decreased enough to eliminate the supposed association between femininity and incompetence.

IELTS General Reading Test

Section D

Several factors seem to underpin the thin standard of bodily attractiveness for women in countries like the USA. The first is that women wishing to appear professional and intelligent believe they must be thin due to society’s demands. Also, women who feel that their fathers do not consider them to be intelligent seem to have a tendency to want a slimmer body than those women who do not carry such feelings of parental disapproval. The derivation of most eating disorders is this slim body ideal.

It seems that women change their ideals (towards being thinner) before men change their ideal of a woman’s shape, and it further appears that the women’s changes are greater in magnitude. This implies that women may determine the standard. This slim standard is associated with occupational success; however, it is not consistent with men’s preferences. Relative to men, women are more cognitively and behaviourally invested in their appearance.

This is a natural result due to the high importance men place on physical attractiveness of their mate. If women start to focus as much as men do on the physical features of their mates, then men may also become subject to this preoccupation with body and appearance. The recent increase in the number and sales of male cosmetic products may be an early hint that this is already happening.

IELTS General Reading Test

Section E

Men’s ideal for their own physique tends to be ‘bigger equals better’. There is evidence to show that more men want to gain weight rather than lose weight. The use of steroids and excessive weight lifting can accomplish this goal of a larger body. Women, however, tend to find men of average size to be the most attractive. Women seem to prefer men with moderately broad shoulders who are of medium height and have a chest slightly larger than average, but not as large and powerful as a traditional body builder’s chest.

Section F

Facial features that portray dominance are commonly thought of as being more attractive to women. These features include thick eyebrows, small eyes, thin lips and a square jaw. But, contrary to the “dominance” features, research seems to suggest that women are in fact most attracted by an optimal combination of ‘neoteneous’, mature, and expressive facial features, in addition to grooming attributes. Neoteneous features include large eyes, a small nose and full lips. A mature face is defined as having prominent cheek bones and a large chin.

IELTS General Reading Test

Section G

It is evident that a clear gender gap exists with respect to physical attractiveness preferences. Women desire average size men, while wanting a smaller, thinner physique for themselves. Men, on the other hand, want larger than average bodies for themselves and prefer their female mates to be a bit larger than women would actually like to be. With these differences in preferences, it is no wonder that finding one’s ideal mate can be so difficult!

IELTS General Reading Test

The passage has 7 sections A-G. Which section mentions the following? Write the correct letter, A-G, in boxes 28-34 on your answer sheet.

28. Both women and men are attracted by the evenness of body and facial features.

29. The relationship between being liked by a parent and the desire for an attractive body.

30. Different cultures produce significantly different social perceptions of body shape.

31. Women and men have differing views of a male’s ideal size.

32. Attitudes to a woman’s size and weight can be linked to the weather.

33. Typical beliefs about female preferences in male faces are not supported by evidence.

34. Women and men apparently want different features in themselves from those that are most desired by the opposite sex.

IELTS General Reading Test

Do the following statements reflect the opinion of the writer? In the boxes, 35-40 on your answer sheet, write,

YES if the statement reflects the opinion of the writer

NO if the statement contradicts the opinion of the writer

NOT GIVEN if it is impossible to say what the writer thinks about this

35. Women are interested in what men do as well as in balanced facial and body features.

36. There is universal agreement about male perceptions of female attractiveness.

37. Women who aren’t thin are less intelligent than men who are overweight.

38. It’s possible that men may become as concerned with their bodies as women appear to be.

39. Women prefer a man’s face to show maturity rather than dominance.

40. Stated perceptions of physical attraction show the clear influence of a generation gap.

IELTS General Reading Test


BEST IELTS General Reading Test 426

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IELTS General Reading Test

28. B

29. D

30. C

31. E

32. C

33. F

34. G

35. YES

36. NO


38. YES

39. YES


IELTS General Reading Test

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