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The Science Behind: Beauty

Updated: Apr 26, 2020

Do you ever watch a movie and wonder- what makes that actress so beautiful? Or maybe there’s that one popular girl in class, who all the boys are just dying for. Have you ever wondered, what - what is it, that makes these people so attractive? What is the secret to their beauty?

Beauty is more complex than it seems. But over the years, scientists have found that the beauty of a face is determined by two things. One, how easily it’s processed by the brain. Meaning the easier it is for the brain to process a face and its features, the more attractive it is. And two, how a face shows the ability to mate and reproduce.

Now, this may be a bit confusing- but these two things have factors that determine this. Those factors are averaging and symmetry.

First of all, averaging. Averaging is the idea that the average, standard face is most attractive. This factor supports the idea of the easy processing of the brain.

Most people think that when it comes to beauty, distinctive faces with unique features are the most beautiful. But many studies have proved this wrong and shown that most people tend to find faces with average-ish features more attractive.

The Averageness Hypothesis, theorized by the Face Research Organization, is a concept that supports this. According to this hypothesis, “the effect of averageness on facial attractiveness is that average faces most closely resemble mental representations of a typical face and can, therefore, be processed most easily by the visual system.” What this concludes is that because average faces match most with our idea of a typical face, it’s much easier for the brain to process, which makes it seem more beautiful.

Symmetry is next and it supports both the ideas of the ability to mate and reproduce and the easy processing of the brain. Symmetry is also an important component of an attractive face. This concept is justified by two hypothesizes, the Evolutionary Advantage and Perpetual Bias. The Evolutionary Advantage suggests that symmetrical faces are appealing because they display how healthy an individual is. Meaning the more symmetrical a face is, the healthier, and a better mate to reproduce with. The Face Research Organization says, “Under the Evolutionary Advantage view of symmetry preferences, symmetric individuals are considered attractive because we have evolved to prefer healthy potential mates.”

The Perpetual Bias is very similar to the Averageness Hypothesis. This bias explains that symmetrical faces are much easier to process through the brain, therefore making them more attractive.

And this is the science behind beauty, so every time you see somebody who you find attractive, try to find why! Is their face average? Symmetrical? Or maybe there’s another reason altogether? Anyways I hope you all had fun reading today’s article and learned something new! If you have any questions please feel free to leave a comment, and I will answer it to the best of my ability! If you have any suggestions for topics or any feedback, leave it in the suggestions box!

Happy Learning,

Ishita :)

To all of you girls and boys out there staring into the mirror and seeing no signs of averageness or symmetry, or whatever people think you need to be “beautiful”: Remember to take this with a grain of salt, because you are beautiful, gorgeous, and stunning just the way you are -- in fact, I can smell through the screen how absolutely amazing you look reading this article and smiling at this message. A couple of theories shouldn’t make you doubt your heart-stopping beauty! Stay pretty ;)



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