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
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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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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.
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.
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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
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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
Facial shape and judgements of female attractiveness
TLDR
The finding that highly attractive facial configurations are not average shows that preferences could exert a directional selection pressure on the evolution of human face shape.
Infant preferences for attractive faces: a cognitive explanation.
TLDR
Four studies assessed a cognitive explanation for the development of attractiveness preferences: cognitive averaging and infant preferences for mathematically averaged faces, or prototypes, and suggest that infants' preferences for attractive faces can be explained by general information-processing mechanisms.
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