Facial attractiveness

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65 Citations (SciVal)


Facial attractiveness has important social consequences. Despite a widespread belief that beauty cannot be defined, in fact, there is considerable agreement across individuals and cultures on what is found attractive. By considering that attraction and mate choice are critical components of evolutionary selection, we can better understand the importance of beauty. There are many traits that are linked to facial attractiveness in humans and each may in some way impart benefits to individuals who act on their preferences. If a trait is reliably associated with some benefit to the perceiver, then we would expect individuals in a population to find that trait attractive. Such an approach has highlighted face traits such as age, health, symmetry, and averageness, which are proposed to be associated with benefits and so associated with facial attractiveness. This view may postulate that some traits will be universally attractive; however, this does not preclude variation. Indeed, it would be surprising if there existed a template of a perfect face that was not affected by experience, environment, context, or the specific needs of an individual. Research on facial attractiveness has documented how various face traits are associated with attractiveness and various factors that impact on an individual's judgments of facial attractiveness. Overall, facial attractiveness is complex, both in the number of traits that determine attraction and in the large number of factors that can alter attraction to particular faces. A fuller understanding of facial beauty will come with an understanding of how these various factors interact with each other.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)621-634
Number of pages14
JournalWiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Cognitive Science
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2014


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