New Scientist has a short report suggesting that the face contributes more to the overall impression of attractiveness than the body.
The research was led by biologist Marianne Peters who asked participants to rate the attractiveness of a number of people, presented as photographs of either the whole person, the face only or the body only.
They found that faces account for more of the variation among ratings than do bodies; in other words, faces are more important. For women rating men, 52 per cent of the attractiveness score was made up by the face rating, while for bodies it was 24 per cent. The trend was similar when men rated women, with 47 per cent of a woman’s overall attractiveness accounted for by her face, and 32 per cent by her body.
Interestingly, the face and body affected the overall attractiveness independently and there was no interaction.
For example, there was no ‘double whammy’ effect for having a face and body that were both rated either high or low on the attractiveness scale.