Author: Dimitris Vagenas
Translator: Alexandra Petli
How quickly can we process somebody’s face? As it appears, we put emphasis on the evaluation of the faces, managing to process them faster than the other things and judge almost immediately how attractive they look. We usually say that we have different preferences from most of the people and that we like men and women that have unusual or odd characteristics, in fact though, things are not like this.
According to researches, the attractiveness for both sexes is linked to youth, slim figure and feminization of the facial characteristics, whereas a person that is estimated as honest and wealthy has more chances to be positively evaluated. Concerning exclusively men, women’s estimations are affected by their phase of the menstrual cycle, evaluating more positively men with masculine characteristics, namely with intense cheekbones, strong jawline and chin, extended brow bone and long lower facial bone, as they are considered to be healthier and can pass on their “good” genes to their child. Attractiveness, also, does not seem to be linked to unusual and strong characteristics, on the contrary, an average and symmetrical face has more chances to be considered attractive. This happens because we are used to meeting people with mediocre characteristics, and as a result, we feel intimacy and security when we see a “common” face. Some studies also claim that even infants prefer people with ordinary characteristics, as they resemble the more anthropomorphic objects of their environment. Moreover, according to the “mutuality principle”, it is more possible to positively evaluate the appearance of a person who seems to like us, rather than of a person that fosters negative emotions towards us.
Stereotypically, attractive people have higher self-esteem, richer sex life and more professional achievements. Such estimations are not necessary false, as older studies have claimed that smiling pupils get less punished than those that do not smile, whereas attractive people have more chances to be hired after a professional interview. However, as attractiveness is linked to the characteristics which we can find in many people, like symmetry and youth, it is rather easy for all of us to be positively evaluated, as long as we spot those characteristics that make us attractive and smile the right moment…
Hogg, M. A., & Vaughan, G. M. (2010). Social Psychology (Trans. Vasilikos E.). Athens: Gutenberg Publications.
Eysenck, M. W. (2010). Fundamentals of Cognition (Trans. Vasilaki E.). Athens: Gutenberg Publications.