June 26, 2008

Faces close to group prototypes are attractive

Psychon Bull Rev. 2008 Jun;15(3):615-22.

Locating attractiveness in the face space: faces are more attractive when closer to their group prototype.

Potter T, Corneille O.

Face attractiveness relates positively to the mathematical averageness of a face, but how close attractive faces of varying groups are to their own and to other-group prototypes in the face space remains unclear. In two studies, we modeled the locations of attractive and unattractive Caucasian, Asian, and African faces in participants' face space using multidimensional scaling analysis. In all three sets of faces, facial attractiveness significantly increased with the absolute proximity of a face to its group prototype. In the case of Caucasian and African faces (Study 1), facial attractiveness also tended to increase with the absolute proximity of a face to the other-group prototype. However, this association was at best marginal, and it became clearly nonsignificant when distance to the own-group prototype was controlled for. Thus, the present research provides original evidence that average features of faces contribute to increasing their attractiveness, but only when these features are average to the group to which a face belongs. The present research also offers further support to face space models of people's mental representations of faces.



Maju said...

Makes sense and shows how subjective (cultural) can be the perception of attractiveness (partly in contrast with other studies that emphasized universal and presumably genetic elements).

AG said...

Average=middle point of bell curve=optimal genetic fitness=sexual selection=prettyness.

UncleTomRuckusInGoodWhiteWorld said...

you can still be universally symmetric, have a certain hip-waste ratio and have different facial averages according to local population, those things don't contradict.

For example...

Tom Cruise and Denzel Washington have very symmetrical faces, but they look nothing alike and are of different races.

miz RAND BLOWTON said...

Yeah,naturally-Now all we need is a proactive government that makes sure that EVERYBODY looks like their genetic Haplogroup is supposed to look.Fine.

Or is this just a theory-like, "people look good when they look like they should"? But what if there is no system set up to promote this "idealism"?

miz RAND BLOWTON said...

Or,how about,"You would look good if you could"!

Maju said...

you can still be universally symmetric, have a certain hip-waste ratio and have different facial averages according to local population, those things don't contradict.

Is not the face but waste-hip ratio averages vary among human types.

For example...

Tom Cruise and Denzel Washington have very symmetrical faces, but they look nothing alike and are of different races.

Sure: Mongoloid and Mediterranean respectively, right? :P

DavidB said...

Yeah, right. All those mixed-race actresses like Halle Berry and Thandie Newton are so unattractive.

But seriously, who were the judges of 'attractiveness' in this study?

Kurika said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
UncleTomRuckusInGoodWhiteWorld said...

Well here is a picture:


I disagree, I have met West Africans who could look like Denzel, they mostly live North of Nigeria...yes they might have Berber or Arab admixture, but still...there are Africans that look like him, but that was not my point anyway.

He, too me, looks like a black guy from the Americas...(not just the U.S. but the Carribean as well).

So when I speak of average face, i was really speaking of that population not average face of a place on the African continent.

My argument has nothing to do with average black man from Sudan, Nigeria, or Congo and average white guy from France, Denmark, or Russia.

What I was saying is that two men from different populations who are racially different can have different appearances, nose width, nose height, forehead height, lip size, etc. and still be symmetrical.

Facial symmetry has nothing to do with race, it has to do with the distance between features and if both sides are balanced.

This is the point.

Also, just be clear, in the "West" Denzel is not considered a Mulatto, not even in Latin America...well maybe in the Dominican Republic, but that is about it...in Mexico, Brazil, etc he is a "negro".

UncleTomRuckusInGoodWhiteWorld said...

These are Igbo in Nigeria. The look stereotypically African America, usually I can tell "Africans" on the street by their facial features (not just clothes or behaviors) but these women would not stand out if they dressed Western.


I'm sure Denzel has people in his family who look like this:

His wife looks more stereotypically West African than these women and she is African American as well.


That's all I have to say about that.

Kurika said...

Dragon Horse, I agree with you entirely in the question of simmetry. I only think that D.W. was not a good exemple. I born in África(Angola). Until my ten years, all my friends were Negros. After, I met guys from other parts of África. All that look like D.W. belonged to mixed etnic groups from Cabo Verde, S.Tomé, Sudan, Suhailis, Fulanis, etç...And I was only speaking about "west" Africa, not American Continent. It´s why I use the word Negro and not Black. Don´t means the same. Like "Branco" (white) in Brasil is diferent of white in Europe. Yes, I´me white (Portuguese) and I can be wrong. But, I remember that when the Independence came (Angola, 1975), the negros(Ovimbundus) in my region killed everibody that looks like D.W.. By other words, they killed everibody that looks mixed...

Ebizur said...

dragon horse said,

"I also feel though that people South of Vietnam in Asia...like Cambodians, Malay groups, etc should be a different race.

They obviously would stand out on the streets of Korea, Japan, and China...and it would be obvious to everyone they are foreigners there is little to no overlap.

Its like taking the average North Indian to Finland."

Blah! What subjective crap!

Malays look no different from tanned Chinese. Some Cambodians do have an odd appearance, but most of them look like tanned Japanese people. Just because none of these people look like typical Koreans does not mean that they would be too conspicuous in China or Japan.

terryt said...

"Malays look no different from tanned Chinese". There would be few people in the world apart from Ebizur who could not tell the difference between a tanned Northeast Asian and a pale SE Asian. I agree that some Japanese and Koreans look a little like SE Asians but this may indicate ancient coastal contact.

Most people would also have little trouble distinguishing between people from West Africa and those from Northeast Africa. As Dragon Horse said, "once and a while I see Southern Sudanese refugees, Niholitic and I feel they are a different race". People from South Africa who have little admixture from the Bantu migration look different again.

And I have no time for people who cannot distinguish between Africans and Melanesians. Both groups have dark skin but that's about as far as it goes. Admittedly if you look hard enough you may be able to find individuals who could be difficult to classify.

Like all species the regional varieties at the geographical edges or points of the distribution look the most different.

Kosmo said...

Interesting post.

terryt said...

I agree that northeast Africans demonstrate admixture with Caucasians. This is precisely why they look different from west Africans. I'm interested to note you accept a fundamental difference between Khoisan and other Africans. Research suggests that the movement out of Africa was the product of mixing of two strains so your idea fits that.

"There is no commonality among these so-called 'NE Asians' that distinguishes them as a group from these so-called 'SE Asians' besides the regular color of their skin, with the SE Asians being naturally darker". What about their different-looking eyes, SE Asians' slightly wavy hair, I'm sure I'll think of some more. And geneticists claim northern and southern Chinese are easily distinguished genetically. The extreme NE Asia phenotype seems to occur especially on the plateau country rather than along the coast. Clouding the issue of course is that people from NE Asia have been moving south into SE Asia and mixing with the locals for several thousand years. This is the reason why "a sharp distinction like that which is possible to make between NE Africans and West Africans" has tended to become obscured.

UncleTomRuckusInGoodWhiteWorld said...


You are right.

I'm not going to waste time either...it is obvious you and I are correct on this.

As far as Cambodians or Thai...it is also obvious that when looking at pictures you have to know what you are looking at. Thailand's population is almost 20% ethnic Han Chinese and who knows how many Chinese have mixed with the local Thais (historically a lot, one of the Thai kings, I believe 100 years ago) was Chinese on his mother's side, the former Prime Minister, Thaskin was also part Chinese on his father's side. Vietnam is the same.

Actually I consider most Vietnamese to look East Asian also though once you go into the Southern Mekong Delta regions, you start getting people who look really different, but this is because those people were a Malay people who were conquered by the Dai Viet people who moved south, but one still must be careful because in places like Saigon, there have long been prominent Chinese trading families, although most left as boat people, there are still some, and many have intermarried with Vietnamese.

Pictures speak louder than words though:












North Chinese:


Southern Chinese:


UncleTomRuckusInGoodWhiteWorld said...


I've lived in Shanghai, China for 6 months, been to South Korea, been to Taiwan, and lived in Tokyo, Japan for over a year.

Filipinas in Tokyo as well as Thai stand out. A lot of Chinese people stand out (but much less so). Indonesians also stand out.

Koreans tend to blend much better, but some of them stand out as well, just by looks, much less so though.

In China, North Chinese tend to group more with Koreans and Japanese in appearance, but the big difference is I think Koreans have bigger heads, and Japanese are shorter than Northern Chinese and Koreans on average. Beijing people are also (on average) much taller and wider than Shanghai people...

Southern Chinese do have a different appearance from Northern Chinese on average, but there is overlap. The reason is Southern Chinese are a result of absorption of people who are related to Thai and Malay like peoples. Northern Chinese absorbed many Mongol and Turkic type people (as well as Manchus and related Tungustic groups).

This is well documented and no educated Chinese person would argue with it.

Look at this site...there is plenty of information, it is ran by a Taiwanese man.


This is why in China, my wife is assumed to be Chinese, although she is Japanese, because there are some Northern Chinese who look like her, but in Japan most Chinese stand out as distinct. The variation in Japan is far less.

As far as Southeast Asians...there are some Chinese (mostly from Guangdong and Fujian) who do look like tan Thai or Cambodian people, but that is because those Thai and Cambodians often have Chinese ancestry or ARE ETHNIC CHINESE. Also Southern Chinese group genetically with Southeast Asians, because they are a mix of the original Han Chinese and Southeast Asian groups who lived in southern China.

China is the place in Asia with the greatest cline in phenotype of this reason.

There is a lot of information on this:

To be it as shortly and politely as possible you don't know what you are talking about and need to read more on the subject before making strong comments.

Start Here:


That's all I have to say about that...you can take a horse to water but...

terryt said...

Thanks for all those links Dragon.

Ebizur said...

Dragon Horse said,

"I've lived in Shanghai, China for 6 months, been to South Korea, been to Taiwan, and lived in Tokyo, Japan for over a year."

So, what? I have observed all these people and places, too, and I think you are confused by skin color and prejudice.

And your links are unnecessary and uncalled for; I am already a member of the China History Forum.

By the way, are you proficient in any Asian language? I don't trust the opinion of anyone who doesn't know the language of the ethnicities in question. Well, then again, I thought your opinion was shitty from the beginning; I would just consider you slightly less of a retard if you could prove your knowledge of various Asian languages to me.

ドラゴンホースって、坂本竜馬とは関係が無いのでしょうか。CHFでは「LongMa」と、「竜馬」の北京語読みをピン音で表記していますね。たしか、日本人の奥さんをお持ちのアメリカ黒人の方でしたよね? それなら、きっと日本語の文章がすらすら読めてしまうのでしょう。


Ebizur said...

By the way, your "Burmese" photo includes many individuals who are obviously Indian or mixed with Indians; they do not represent the typical Burmese phenotype, nor are such individuals found in significant numbers in other parts of Southeast Asia.

Your examples of Indonesians and Cambodians, despite the fact that your "Lombok" photo (Sasak, perhaps?) does not represent a typical Indonesian phenotype in my opinion, as well as the Burmese in that photo who do not look like subcontinental Indians, appear no different from dark-skinned versions of certain individuals from China, Japan, Korea, etc.

Please use your all-illuminating wisdom to indicate for everyone which of these Cambodians and Thais could not pass for Chinese or Japanese if they were not so swarthy:


























(Watch out, there might be some Chinese, Japanese, or Vietnamese people mixed in there! But our omniscient Dragon Horse would surely recognize immediately which of these photos are actually of Chinese people, right?)

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.