Attractive Faces Are Only Average

@article{Langlois1990AttractiveFA,
  title={Attractive Faces Are Only Average},
  author={Judith H. Langlois and Lori A Roggman},
  journal={Psychological Science},
  year={1990},
  volume={1},
  pages={115 - 121}
}
Scientists and philosophers have searched for centuries for a parsimonious answer to the question of what constitutes beauty. We approached this problem from both an evolutionary and information-processing rationale and predicted that faces representing the average value of the population would be consistently judged as attractive. To evaluate this hypothesis, we digitized samples of male and female faces, mathematically averaged them, and had adults judge the attractiveness of both the… 

Beauty is in the ease of the beholding: A neurophysiological test of the averageness theory of facial attractiveness

Novel evidence is provided that faces are perceived as being attractive when they approximate a facial configuration close to the population average, and it is suggested that processing fluency underlies preferences for attractive faces.

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In a recent article, Langlois and Roggman (1990) argue that “attractive faces are only average” and support this theory with composite faces produced by digitized image processing. While we agree

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Two Faces of Attractiveness

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Abstract Averaged composite faces, created by blending sets of faces, are surprisingly attractive. Here we consider whether a generalized mere exposure effect contributes to their appeal.

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The authors systematically test the averageness hypothesis in 5 experiments using both rating and visual adaptation paradigms and conclusively support the proposal that there are specific nonaverage characteristics that are particularly attractive.

Individual Aesthetic Preferences for Faces Are Shaped Mostly by Environments, Not Genes

Preference for Averageness in Faces Does Not Generalize to Non-Human Primates

The study suggests that the preference for averageness in faces does not generalize to non-human primates, and the average face likely plays a role in face recognition rather than in judgments of facial attractiveness.

Humans judge faces in incomplete photographs as physically more attractive

The hypothesis that people fill in the missing information with positive inferences when judging others’ facial beauty is tested, showing that—relative to complete photographs—participants judge faces in incomplete photographs as physically more attractive.

What Is Average and What Is Not Average About Attractive Faces?

We reported in this journal (Langlois & Roggman, 1990) findings showing that attractive faces are those that represent the mathematical average of faces in a population These findings were intriguing
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