A study has found what many have long suspected and the producers of Baywatch always knew: men notice breasts first.

The study, by Victoria University PhD student Barnaby Dixson, found a man can zoom in on a woman's most attractive features within 200 milliseconds.

Using the university's $60,000 "Eyelink 1000" eye-tracking device, Mr Dixson - with Victoria psychologist Gina Grimshaw and PhD supervisor Wayne Linklater - confronted 36 males with six naked images of the same woman, digitally altered to increase or decrease the size of her bust, waist and hips.

Of the participants - all of whom were European New Zealanders aged 22 to 42 - 47 per cent noticed the woman's breasts first, while a third noticed her midriff.

Barely a fifth of participants noticed the woman's face first.

But while breasts might be "the first fixation", breast size ultimately made no difference to a woman's attractiveness, Mr Dixson found.

Instead, a woman's allure appeared to lie in the rather mundane and distinctly unsexy-sounding waist-to-hip ratio.

Apparently, the curvier a woman's figure, the more fertile she would appear to be, hence more attractive.

Mr Dixson said his study was important in that it helped to establish a connection between the disciplines of biology and psychology by exploring the links between appearance and attractiveness.

The study also set out to establish a link between attention and attractiveness judgments.

But whatever the findings, Mr Dixson acknowledges his research could be meaningless.

"At the end of the day, we have all these grandiose biological theories ... but it could be men just like looking at breasts.

"There could be no scientific merit to the study at all."

Mr Dixson's study has been published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior, the official publication of the International Academy of Sex Research.

And any men disappointed to have missed the chance to participate in Mr Dixson's research need not worry: he intends to continue his studies in the future, likely expanding the age range and ethnicity of his subjects.