Beauty and the beholder—familiar faces breed attraction

May 18, 2017, University of St Andrews
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

The faces of people around us influence what we find attractive, according to the latest research by the University of St Andrews.

The study, published today (May 18, 2017) by the journal Human Nature, examined how the appearance of a person's influences their facial preferences.

Researchers Carlota Batres, Mallini Kannan and David Perrett found that people tended to prefer mates with the same characteristics as those they were most familiar to.

The study involved asking male and female subjects in different areas which men and women they found most attractive from digitally-manipulated face pairs. The researchers also collected photographs of the subjects which were then rated online by different participants residing in in another country.

The study found that the facial characteristics common to each person's population were considered to be the most attractive.

For example, the faces of women in of Malaysia and El Salvador were rated as looking heavier than women's faces from urban areas. Both male and female subjects in those rural areas preferred heavier-looking female faces.

Dr Carlota Batres, who led the research, said, "In a world where it is said that 'beauty is in the eye of the beholder', it might actually be that 'beauty is in the faces of those we behold', since we grow to like those around us."

Further research will be needed to examine just how far this effect can extend, such as whether binge watching a specific show could lead us to prefer who look like those actors, or whether high exposure to politicians' could also influence our preferences.

Professor David Perrett, who runs the Perception Lab at St Andrews, added, "Future research that examines beauty ideals between populations should also examine the that make up such populations."

Explore further: The internet influences what people think is attractive in others, according to new research

More information: Carlota Batres et al. Familiarity with Own Population's Appearance Influences Facial Preferences, Human Nature (2017). DOI: 10.1007/s12110-017-9289-8

Related Stories

The internet influences what people think is attractive in others, according to new research

July 11, 2014
A new study, by scientists at the University of St Andrews, found that people with access to the internet preferred more masculine men, and more feminine and thinner women.

Why girls who mature early go for masculine men

April 15, 2016
Women who undergo early puberty prefer more masculine men and are more likely to want to have children earlier, according to new research.

Study shows self-evaluation influences facial memory

March 30, 2017
Can you remember someone you met for the first time? Was there something in particular about them that caught your eye?

Men and women show equal ability at recognizing faces

May 9, 2017
Despite conventional wisdom that suggests women are better than men at facial recognition, Penn State psychologists found no difference between men and women in their ability to recognize faces and categorize facial expressions.

Study finds tall, 35 year old men appear more dominant than others

August 19, 2015
A study by scientists at the University of St. Andrews shows that simple increases in a man's height and age automatically makes them appear more dominant.

Psychologists pinpoint change in weight required to look healthier and more attractive

December 3, 2015
A good poker face might prevent others knowing what cards you're holding but it won't prevent them from knowing if you've gained or lost weight. That's because our faces reveal many things, including whether our weight has ...

Recommended for you

Link between hallucinations and dopamine not such a mystery, finds study

February 16, 2018
Researchers at Columbia University Irving Medical Center (CUIMC) and New York State Psychiatric Institute (NYSPI) found that people with schizophrenia who experience auditory hallucinations tend to hear what they expect, ...

People find comfort listening to the same songs over and over, study finds

February 16, 2018
With the frequency that some people play their favorite song, it's a good thing vinyl records aren't used often because they might wear out.

Ketamine found to reduce bursting in brain area reducing depression quickly

February 15, 2018
A team of researchers at Zhejiang University in China has found that the drug ketamine reduces neuronal bursting in the lateral habenula (LHb) brain region, reducing symptoms of depression in rodent models. In their paper ...

What predicts the quality of children's friendships? Study shows cognition, emotion together play

February 15, 2018
Whether children think their peers' intentions are benign or hostile, and how those children experience and express their own emotions, may influence the quality of their friendships, according to a new study from the University ...

Evidence shows pets can help people with mental health problems

February 15, 2018
The study of 17 research papers by academics at the Universities of Manchester, Southampton and Liverpool, concludes that pets can help people manage their long-term mental health conditions.

Personality: Where does it come from and how does it work?

February 14, 2018
How do our personalities develop? What do we come with and what is built from our experiences? Once developed, how does personality work? These questions have been steeped in controversy for almost as long as psychology has ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.