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
TLDR
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.
Article Commentary: Averaged Faces Are Attractive, but Very Attractive Faces Are Not Average
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
The Attractiveness of Nonface Averages: Implications for an Evolutionary Explanation of the Attractiveness of Average Faces
TLDR
A strong relationship between averageness and attractiveness for dogs, wristwatches, and birds is found and the most parsimonious explanation is that humans have a general attraction to prototypical exemplars, and their attraction to average faces is a reflection of this more general attraction.
Two Faces of Attractiveness
TLDR
To the knowledge, no published study has indicated that averaging produced a face that was less attractive than the original faces from which it was generated.
The Attractiveness of Average Faces is not a Generalized Mere Exposure Effect
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.
Dissociating averageness and attractiveness: attractive faces are not always average.
TLDR
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.
Preference for Averageness in Faces Does Not Generalize to Non-Human Primates
TLDR
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
TLDR
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
...
...

References

SHOWING 1-10 OF 63 REFERENCES
Aesthetic perception of faces during infancy
This study explores the visual preferences of young infants for faces that differ with respect to their perceived attractiveness, as evaluated by adult raters. Black-and-white slides were presented
Infants ' Differential Social Responses to Attractive and Unattractive Faces
Two studies were conducted to examine infants' social responses to attractive and unattractive faces. In Study I, 60 12-month-olds interacted with a stranger who wore a professionally constructed
Cross- vs. within-racial judgments of attractiveness
TLDR
There were essentially no differences in perceived variation for cross- vs. within-racial judgments, but there were differences in the criteria used to define attractiveness.
Measuring the physical in physical attractiveness: quasi-experiments on the sociobiology of female facial beauty
Two quasi-experiments investigated the relation between specific adult female facial features and the attraction, attribution, and altruistic responses of adult males. Precise measurements were
Abstraction of prototypical information by adults and 10-month-old infants.
  • M. Strauss
  • Psychology
    Journal of experimental psychology. Human learning and memory
  • 1979
TLDR
The results clearly imply that infants are able to constructively process visual information and hence take a more active role in category formation than had been previously believed.
Physical Attractiveness
This experiment was designed to test the idea that physically attractive (PA) persons are perceived as having two types of goodness-sex-relevant and sexirrelevant. Three hypotheses were tested to
Pattern recognition and categorization
...
...