According to beauty oriented studies, averageness refers to the average phenotypic characteristics evident in a person. This is the facial outward appearance and one’s general appearance. They communicate about one’s fertility and health. A bigger proportion of the studies were based on photographic overlays in which the images are morphed together. Factors like youthfulness, similarity and symmetry are also considered when attractiveness is concerned.
There is a possibility of beauty not being in the eyes of the beholder. Beauty can be less arbitrarily considered as a cultural whims’ slave. Views on attractiveness do not vary across many races hence infants are able to find faces that even adults find to be attractive. It is evident that there is something beyond culture that drives people’s perceptions about beauty. There are several hypotheses formulated on why some faces are considered attractive. Philosophers and scientists have researched for many years to find the answer of the question, “what constitutes beauty.” The issue has been approached from both an information processing and evolutionary rationale. Later, those faces that made a quantitative representation of the average population value would be considered to be the most attractive. When digitized male and female face samples were mathematically averaged and their attractiveness judged, composite faces were viewed to be of more attractiveness as opposed to all those faces that comprised of the composites. Moreover, as more faces were added for comparison, the composite faces were viewed to be more attractive. From this data, on can deduce that these faces are considered to be attractive because they are embedded in evolutionary characteristics that are in proximity with the population mean with cognitive processes that are in favor of the members of the prototype category.
Even with a conception beauty definition or its stimulus dimensions, research has put forward very strong findings that are widely replicated in the behavioral sciences. Both adults and children always respond more positively towards attractive faces than they do the ones that are less attractive. An emergent study that was published in the Psychological Science, gave a new explanation as to why average faces (not average-looking or mathematically average) are considered to be more attractive. According to Jamn Halberstad of New Zealand’s University of Otago and Piotr Winkielman of the University of California, we tend to make a preference on average faces because they are quite closer to facial prototype. i.e. faces that are average are considered to be ‘face-like.’ Halberstadt and Winkielman said that these average faces are more attractive owing to the fact that it is easier for the brain to process them. Research shows that the brain takes notice of and keeps the first facial semblance for future use. Encounter of more faces triggers the brain makes a creation of face categories and also tries to figure out commonalities or similar patterns between several faces that we come across. These are the patterns that make the facial prototype basis.
Closeness of the face to its prototype aids in its processing i.e. the closer it is to the prototype, the easier it is processed. According to Winkielman, the above mentioned faster face processing explains why items that are more prototypical e.g. faces receive a more appreciative and positive assessment. The brain actually is very excellent in detecting a particular pattern among faces. Evolutionary biologists propose that an average faces’ preference has changed over time because this is an indication of quite a high quality of a viable mate. Some even go a step further to propose that average faces are more prone to a larger genetic pool that would aid them the capability of fighting diseases. Evidence also shows that those people who are attractive are composed of controversial healthier remains.
Halberstadt and Winkielman were correct to say that our perception of beauty depends on the faces that we have been exposed to. For example, on who is in London is likely to have a wider category owing to the fact that they are exposed to a wider variety of people. Through his study, WInkielman also was able to note that people always found exotic faces to be more attractive. Data collected also showed that most people always prefer average faces. H said that the prototypes are not that exciting but are well balanced though not that intriguing.
Francis (1883), Charles Darwin’s cousin devised composite photography-a technique that is described in details in Inquiries in Human Faculty and its Development that he believed could be used to figure out types via appearance, which he had hope that it could help in diagnosis that was medical and also in the field of crime by identification of criminal faces. In search for an answer he came up with several vegetarian and criminal faces to see whether there was any physical facial appearance. He overlaid the pictures on a single photographic plate so that every face made a contribution roughly equivalent to an ultimate composite face. Even though the resultant ‘average’ faces showed little pre identification of these faces, Galton was able to observe that there was more attractiveness in the composite image compared to the component faces. Stoddard (1886) also made similar observations when he made a creation of graduate seniors of Smith College and the National Academy of Sciences. This was a phenomenon referred to as averageness-effect stating that highly attractive faces tend to make an implication of the population’s average traits.
Those faces that have been manipulated to be close to average have always been considered to be more attractive. Symmetrical and averageness influences are often confounded full-face face views. To compare the effect of altering the female face averageness, two experiments were conducted in full-face and profile views. A profile view use allows face morphing toward an average shape minus creation of an image that is more symmetrical. Faces morphed towards averageness were viewed to more attractive in either ways though there was a significant stronger effect for the full face view. Those ones morphed away from averageness were perceived to be less attractive. It was then concluded that the averageness effect is independent of any symmetrical effect on the perceived female attractiveness effect.
In a letter written to Charles Darwin (1887), A.L Austin observed that a two face composite was strikingly attractive. On placing two different portraits in a stereoscope, Mr. Austin was shocked to discover that they made a fusion into a single portrait. He said that faces make a blend in the most remarkable manner resulting in case of some ladies portraits in each instance a decided improvement in beauty (Galton, 1878, 137). This has awoken the interest of various scientists hence there have been more formal replicated studies on this phenomenon. These are the likes of (Langlois & Roggmann, 1990; Langlois Roggman, & Musselman, 1994; Rhodes & Tremewan, 1996). The effect in males as well as females is always present (Langlois & Roggman, 1990) and cutting across ethnic backgrounds e.g., (Perrett, May, & Yoshikawa, 1994; Rhodes, Yoshikawa et al, 2001)
Facial attractiveness determinants’ identification has become a major issue in the evolutionary psychology. Attractiveness may exhibit some biological survival propensity (i.e., “good genes”) and these preferences may act as a basis of selecting an optimal mate. Symmetry may indicate stress free growth whereas averageness implies genetic diversity. Such preference facts may be also used to maintain population stability.
Alternatively, facial attractiveness can be an artifact of a generalized cognitive mechanism. Distinctive faces are more easily recognized than normal typical faces. On the other hand, typical faces have always been described as face instead of a scrambled face hence more quickly than those faces that are distinctive (Valentine, 1991) from these effects; faces have been represented in a multidimensional face-space (Valentine, 1991, 2001). More support on this framework also emanates from the observation that caricatured faces are more accurately recognizable as opposed to veridical faces (Lee & Perrett, 2000). Distinctness of the face (an averageness converse measure) is correlated negatively with attractiveness (Rhodes, Sumich, & Byatt, 1999) from these results; it is evident that there is a possibility of a role that cognitively processes general cognitive mechanisms that mediate average faces’ perceived attractiveness.
There two identifiable accounts of composite faces’ attractiveness. Firstly, composite faces prove to be attractive because their shape is average the “averageness hypothesis” (Langlois and Roggman, 1990). Secondly, composite faces are perceived to be attractive because of their symmetrical nature the “symmetry hypothesis” (Rhodes, Roberts, & Simmons, 1999). However, these hypotheses are not mutually exclusive. There is a third possibility stating that composite skins are attractive owing to the fact that their skin has a smooth texture. However, averageness attractiveness can be detected in drawing of faces without skin texture inclusion (Rhodes & Tremewan, 1996)
There have been a number of endeavors to distinguish between the roles of symmetry and averageness in the attractiveness perception. There has been an extensive research on the role of symmetry. One can produce a symmetrical face through combination of a half of a face split vertically along its midline by a mirror image. Such faces exhibit perfect symmetry. However, such perfect symmetrical faces are not considered to be more attractive than the original ones (Kowner, 1996; Langlois et al., 1994; Samuels, Butterworth, Roberts, Graupner, & Hole, 1994). In conclusion, symmetry cannot be the basic condition for a face to be attractive. This is because it has received criticism that symmetric chimerc faces always look unnatural hence may not provie a symmetry hypothesis that is appropriate (Rhodes, Roberts, & Simmons, 1999; Rhodes, Sumich, & Byatt, 1999).
Rhodes and her colleagues (Rhodes, Profitt, Grady, & Sumich, 1998; Rhodes, Roberts, & Simmons, 1999; Rhodes, Sumich, & Byatt, 1999) have made an advocation of the face morphing procedure with their mirror images so as to produce faces with a natural look in which their level of symmetry is applied to a controlled extent. Still they ended up concluded that faces were more attractive when they were in their very natural state.
However, average faces on the other hand are not always attractive. This is according to Lisa M. DeBruine, Benedict C. Jones, and Layla Unger of the University of Aberdeen. Their studies showed that faces of highly caricaturing attractiveness make them less average but more attractive. When facial research was researched upon, it was discovered that the human brain tends to increase both preferences rating and visual in relation to the previously viewed prototypes.
When Sir Francis Galton (1878) made a composite image creation by projecting of many individuals’ face photographs onto a photographic film piece, he came to notice that they had greater attraction as opposed to the original photographs they had been processed from. Recently, a bunch of psychologists have employed the use of computer graphic method to come up with composite images that are more realistic that are in possession of the average characteristics of their constituent faces. Composite images which are also a result of computer graphic methods to receive an average perception and rating and also an average mean rating of their constituent images (Langlois & Roggman, 1990; Rhodes, Sumich, Byatt, 1999; Rhodes et al, 2001; Valentine, Darling, & Donnelly, 2004 ) resulting in researchers concluding that average faces are attractive.
Facial characteristics, (neoteney D. Jones, 1995; Perrett et al, 1998) have been observed to contribute greatly to the female face attractiveness. On the other hand studies s that have shown that nonaverage characteristic levels like neoteny and femininity are attractive have not made a comparison with the normality judgment (D.Jonness, 1995; Perrret et al, 1998). There is some extent of bias directed to attractive faces (Maner et al, 2003; Shimojo, Simion, Shimojo, & Scheier, 2003) imply that there is a possibility that mathematical coverage ageness hypothesis was correct. I.e. the one which has the smaller absolute manipulation value is always preferred. However, when correct is the contrast hypothesis, the face that will receive more preference is that one with a higher continuum.
Another experiment was conducted. Using a visual adaptation paradigm to perform a test on effects of being exposed to unattractive or attractive individual faces on normality and attractive forces, (Little et al, 2005; Rhodes et al, 2003; Webster & MacLin, 1999) sought a hypothesis from the investigation. If correct is the averageness hypothesis, then the viewing of attractive will cause an increase in both normality and attractiveness novel attractive faces whilst making an observation of novel faces that are unattractive faces will do the exact opposite.
In a situation where contrast hypothesis is correct, normality judgment ought to follow the exact pattern shown above whist judgment based on attractiveness should also follow a different pattern with exposure to individuals who are attractive decreasing the attractiveness of both unattractive and novel attractive faces and also exposure to individuals who are less attractive can increase their attraction.
Even though with the help of a graphic computer method can generate a mathematically average face from a population, the face that is perceived as most average may actually be of symmetrical difference from this. When exposed to highly attractive faces in the attention biases or media to attractive forces (Maner et al, 2003; Shimojo et al, 2003) may give rise to an experience that is biased such that the experienced faces’ average appears to be more attractive than the actual population faces. This may actually reconcile the averageness hypothesis together with the findings of Perrett et al. (1994) if the face that is being perceived as to be the most average is actually closer to the attractive composite as opposed to the average composite.
So as to make a confirmation on the view which states that the attractiveness continuum stimuli are perceived as less normal the more they deviate from mathematical average hence validating further the application of “normality” judgments for assessment of perceived averageness, participants rated all continuum faces for perceived normality. When a comparison of these results and those of the similar stimuli so as to determine whether normality and attractiveness and normality judgments exhibit any similarity in the pattern, or whether the image that has the maximum attractiveness has the most positive continuum value on the than the image that has maximum normality
It is very intriguing that Perrett et al discovered when a participant group was asked to rate their attractiveness of each one of the 3 composite faces (an average of 60 faces i.e. all faces, the mean of the 15 faces which were most attractive and the ‘hyper-attractive’ that possessed exaggerated qualities that were very attractive) the hyper- attractive one was said to be the most attractive of the 3. This actually makes sense because this was mathematically the least average among the three composites that were under judgment. Since the hyper- attractive composite was the least average but the most attractive, then this is very strong evidence that averageness cannot necessarily be the facial attractiveness critical determinant. In other words, perrett’s findings are evidence to proving to be against the averageness Facial Attractiveness Hypothesis because the findings have shown that faces of high attractiveness systematically deviate from an average shape.
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