A new survey asked some thousands of volunteers to rate just how attractive 200 random faces. The study concluded that beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder, and everything that attracts us to others is influenced by our personal experiences.
According to the study, other than face symmetry and hair volume, there is no other universal indicator that we all find attractive. Researchers suggest that all these common preferences account for only 50% of our attraction to another human being.
The team behind the project claims that the other half is unique to everyone. Scientists believe that even the long lost memories of our first childhood boyfriend or girlfriend can have a great impact on our preferences for the rest of our lives. Think of identical twins – they are persons who share the same exact enes yet they have different tastes for faces.
Jeremy Wilmer, co-author of the study and psychologist at Wellesley College explined that supermodels are supermodels mainly because lots of people tend to believe they are attractive. He gives Brad Pitt as an example. Most people believe that he is an attractive person.
Our preferences have long been debated, whether if it was at the dinner table or in scientific circles. Previous studies concluded that it is more likely for humans to be attracted by healthier individuals, while others have stressed the influence of culture and family members in shaping our tastes.
The team that conducted the study set up a website that makes users choose what faces are attractive out of 200 carefully selected options – including computer-generated faces. The researchers then analyzed the results from about 35,000 users who visited the site. The volunteers had to rate the faces on a scale from 1 to 7 – 1 being repulsive, 7 being very attractive.
Researchers were able to predict about 50% of a couple of hundred persons’ preferences. These results reinforced the belief that our preferences our predictable. Curious about how would identical twins do in the test, scientists asked nearly 550 pairs of twins to take the same test. The results were the same, the 50-50 pattern was respected by 81% of the tested volunteers.
Wilmer notes that he was really surprised by the results, considering that most studies of human perception concluded that is is mostly genes that influence our taste. The new study proves that the environment influence is just, or perhaps more important than genes in shaping our ideas of beauty.
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