Social influences on the beautiful face

People in close social groups, such as family and friends, were more likely to agree on the attractiveness of a face, according to an interesting study published in Perception.

It’s a novel take on face perception research, which usually implies that there are some general features of attractiveness which we all can perceive, but rarely looks at how other people can influence this.

Beauty is in the ‘we’ of the beholder: greater agreement on facial attractiveness among close relations.

Perception. 2007;36(11):1674-81.

Bronstad PM, Russell R.

Scientific research on facial attractiveness has focused primarily on elucidating universal factors to which all raters respond consistently. However, recent work has shown that there is also substantial disagreement between raters, highlighting the importance of determining how attractiveness preferences vary among different individuals. We conducted a typical attractiveness ratings study, but took the unusual step of recruiting pairs of subjects who were spouses, siblings, or close friends. The agreement between pairs of affiliated friends, siblings, and spouses was significantly greater than between pairs of strangers drawn from the same race and culture, providing evidence that facial-attractiveness preferences are socially organized.

Link to PubMed entry for study.

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