Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Why Face Symmetry Is Sexy Across Cultures And Species

Date:
May 8, 2008
Source:
Public Library of Science
Summary:
In a study published in the May 7 issue of the journal PLoS ONE, Anthony Little of the University of Stirling and colleagues show that measurements of symmetry and sexual dimorphism from faces are related in humans, both in Europeans and African hunter-gatherers, and in a non-human primate. In all samples, symmetric males had more masculine facial proportions and symmetric females had more feminine facial proportions.

High and low symmetry composite faces for macaques, Hadza, and Europeans. All images are normalised on inter-pupillary distance to control relative image size, have been made perfectly symmetric, and each high/low pair possesses the average colour information of both. Perceptual differences are then dependent on shape differences between high and low symmetry faces that are independent of symmetry.
Credit: Image courtesy of Public Library of Science

In humans, faces are an important source of social information. One property of faces that is rapidly noticed is attractiveness. Research has highlighted symmetry and sexual dimorphism (how masculine or feminine a face is) as important variables that determine a face's attractiveness.

Related Articles


But why are these traits attractive?

One idea is that both traits are adverts of genetic quality or some other aspect of quality such as fertility. An alternative view is that preferences for these traits arise through visual experience and therefore not linked to any underlying biological factors. Faces certainly have the potential to be advertisements of mate 'quality' and one way to examine this idea is to look at interrelationships between proposed adverts of quality.

In a study published in the May 7 issue of the journal PLoS ONE, Anthony Little of the University of Stirling and colleagues show that measurements of symmetry and sexual dimorphism from faces are related in humans, both in Europeans and African hunter-gatherers, and in a non-human primate. In all samples, symmetric males had more masculine facial proportions and symmetric females had more feminine facial proportions.

The findings therefore support the claim that sexual dimorphism and symmetry in faces are signals advertising quality by providing evidence that there must be a biological mechanism linking the two traits during development. For example, individuals resistant to disease may be able to grow both symmetric and sexually dimorphic. Such work also suggests that faces may advertise quality across different human populations and even across different primate species.

The researchers are currently collecting data on human perceptions of facial beauty at http://www.alittlelab.com, which also presents more information about their work.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Public Library of Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Anthony C. Little, Benedict C. Jones, Corri Waitt, Bernard P. Tiddeman, David R. Feinberg, David I. Perrett, Coren L. Apicella, Frank W. Marlowe, Thomas Reimchen. Symmetry Is Related to Sexual Dimorphism in Faces: Data Across Culture and Species. PLoS ONE, 2008; 3 (5): e2106 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0002106

Cite This Page:

Public Library of Science. "Why Face Symmetry Is Sexy Across Cultures And Species." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 May 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080507083952.htm>.
Public Library of Science. (2008, May 8). Why Face Symmetry Is Sexy Across Cultures And Species. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080507083952.htm
Public Library of Science. "Why Face Symmetry Is Sexy Across Cultures And Species." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080507083952.htm (accessed December 21, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Double-Amputee Becomes First To Move Two Prosthetic Arms With His Mind

Double-Amputee Becomes First To Move Two Prosthetic Arms With His Mind

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) A double-amputee makes history by becoming the first person to wear and operate two prosthetic arms using only his mind. Jen Markham has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Prenatal Exposure To Pollution Might Increase Autism Risk

Prenatal Exposure To Pollution Might Increase Autism Risk

Newsy (Dec. 18, 2014) Harvard researchers found children whose mothers were exposed to high pollution levels in the third trimester were twice as likely to develop autism. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Yoga Could Be As Beneficial For The Heart As Walking, Biking

Yoga Could Be As Beneficial For The Heart As Walking, Biking

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) Yoga can help your weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and heart just as much as biking and walking does, a new study suggests. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins