UPDATE Jan. 2013: If I had to redo the graph today, I would extend the peak of psychological qualities through to at least 30. This would probably produce a combined peak around age 24-27. It's hard to define "attractiveness" though. If you're in a bar or night club, men will judge based on mostly appearance alone. In a situation where you get to know people over a longer period of time, the woman's psychological characteristics will play a greater role in defining her attractiveness. So the 50:50 ratio in the weighting of these two traits is a kind of compromise.
In comparison to male sexual attractiveness, female attractiveness over time is easier to model and exhibits less variation. This is probably because the biological constraints on reproduction for women are greater than for men in light of their far greater energy investment in offspring. Again, this model is an oversimplification, but I think female attractiveness over time can be effectively modeled based on 2 rather than 3 (for males) factors:
- Physical qualities: sexual maturity and fertility, physical maturity, health and fitness level, probability of surviving childbirth and critical years of childrearing
- Psychological qualities: confidence, flirtatiousness, independence, ability to manage complex family relationships and responsibilities
Once again, as in the previous post, we find that sexually attractive psychological qualities are expressed in approximately the degree to which a woman senses she is attractive to the opposite sex. Are these qualities a cause or an effect? Probably a bit of both. With physical attractiveness comes confidence, but with age may also come greater freedom to be oneself, greater spontaneity, etc. These qualities may enable a woman to remain attractive to potential mates well into middle and even old age, even though her peak attractiveness was still somewhere back around age 25.