Mixed-ethnicity face shape and attractiveness in humans

Anthony C. Little, Kimberley J. Hockings, Coren L. Apicella, Claudia Sousa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (SciVal)


Many studies show agreement within and between populations and cultures for general judgments of facial attractiveness. Studies that have examined the attractiveness of specific traits have also highlighted cross-cultural differences for factors such as symmetry, averageness, and masculinity. One trait that should be preferred across cultures is heterozygosity. Indeed, several studies suggest that mixed ethnicity, in terms of appearing to possess a mixture of traits from different human population groups, may be found attractive, which could reflect preferences for heterozygosity. We examined preferences for manipulated face shape associated with different populations in both Europeans (Britain) and Africans (Guinea-Bissau). We found that mixed-ethnicity face shapes were more attractive than enhanced single-ethnicity face shape across both populations. These results are consistent with evolutionary theories suggesting individuals should prefer heterozygosity in partners because facial cues to mixed-ethnicity are likely to indicate diverse genes compared to cues that indicate a face belongs to a single particular culture or population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1486-1496
Number of pages11
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • Agreement
  • Culture
  • Facial attractiveness
  • Mixed
  • Population
  • Variation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Artificial Intelligence


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