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

  title={What Is Average and What Is Not Average About Attractive Faces?},
  author={Judith H. Langlois and Lori A Roggman and Lisa Musselman},
  journal={Psychological Science},
  pages={214 - 220}
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 because they provided a parsimonious definition of facial attractiveness and because they supported explanations of attractiveness from the point of view of both evolutionary and cognitive-prototype theory Since our 1990 report, several alternative explanations of our findings have been offered In… 

Figures from this paper

The Attractiveness of Nonface Averages: Implications for an Evolutionary Explanation of the Attractiveness of Average Faces
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.
Infant preferences for attractive faces: a cognitive explanation.
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.
What Is Typical Is Good
It is shown that for a continuum of faces that vary on a typicality-attractiveness dimension, trustworthiness judgments peak around the typical face, which suggests that face typicality is an important determinant of face evaluation.
Average faces are average faces
Photographs of faces of young adult male and female Scots were measured on nineteen frontal dimensions. Measures in each dimension were converted to z-scores and summed for each face. For each sex,
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.
Averageness, Exaggeration, and Facial Attractiveness
Langlois and her colleagues reported in this journal that composite faces are more attractive than the component faces used to create them, and conjectured that averageness is attractive (Langlois &
It’s not just average faces that are attractive: Computer-manipulated averageness makes birds, fish, and automobiles attractive
The results suggest that at least two mechanisms contribute to the attractiveness of average exemplars: a general preference for familiar stimuli, which contributes to the appeal of averageness in all three categories, and a preference for features signaling genetic quality in living organisms, including conspecifics.
The evolutionary psychology of facial beauty.
  • G. Rhodes
  • Psychology
    Annual review of psychology
  • 2006
It is argued that both kinds of selection pressures may have shaped the authors' perceptions of facial beauty.
Why are average faces attractive? The effect of view and averageness on the attractiveness of female faces
The effect of averageness is independent of any effect of symmetry on the perceived attractiveness of female faces, and is significantly stronger for full-face views.
Are Average Facial Configurations Attractive Only Because of Their Symmetry?
Several commentators have suggested that the attractiveness of average facial configurations could be due solely to associated changes in symmetry. If this symmetry hypothesis is correct, then


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
Attractive Faces Are Only Average
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
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
Article Commentary: On the Difficulty of Averaging Faces: Comments on Langlois and Roggman
In this journal, Langlois and Roggman (1990) argued that faces with morphologically normal features will be seen as attractive by conspecifics. In humans, this process takes the following form: The
Article Commentary: A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words: Reply to “On the Difficulty of Averaging Faces”
Pittenger (PS, 1991, 2, 351-353) criticizes three characteristics of our technique of mathematically averaging faces to produce an attractive composite face (Langlois & Roggman, 1990). He claims that
Facial Diversity and InfantPreferences for Attractive Faces
Three studies examined infant preferences for attractive faces in four types of faces: White adult male and female faces, Black adult female faces, and infant faces. Infants viewed pairs of faces,
Memory for lateral asymmetries in well-known faces: Evidence for configural information in memory representations of Faces
The Results of Experiments 1 and 2 suggest that Configural Information About the Left-Right Organization of Faces Is Represented In Memory.
An investigation into component and configural processes underlying face perception.
  • J. Sergent
  • Psychology
    British journal of psychology
  • 1984
The results suggest that faces have both component and configural properties and lend themselves to different processing strategies that are not mutually exclusive and can unfold simultaneously.
The face-detection effect: Configuration enhances detection
It is found that a picture of a face is more easily detected than is a pattern of arbitrarily rearranged facial features, and this face-detection effect (FDE) can be produced with line drawings and with photocopies of a pictureof a face.
Configurational Information in Face Perception
The findings demonstrate the importance of configurational information in face perception, and that configurations are only properly perceived in upright faces.