You may spend hours experimenting with beauty products to get that perfect full lip, dewy skin or face framing hair. You know why you do it of course! Who doesn’t want to look and feel their most confident and beautiful? And you know when you’ve nailed it too!
But what is it that you’ve achieved? What is beauty really?
The science behind beauty and attraction is an exciting and well-researched field. In 2009, a team from Osaka University in Japan studied what the most important factor was for facial beauty. Their conclusion was that a perfectly beautiful face needed both ‘symmetry’ and ‘averageness’!
According to studies done by Germany’s University of Leipzig, the physical trait that everyone finds attractive in the opposite sex is symmetry – and this is true for both humans and animals. Symmetrical faces are generally considered more attractive and associated with good health and genetic quality. Less symmetrical faces are perceived as correlating with ill-health and lack of fitness.
Evolutionary psychologists attribute such attraction to a subconscious evaluation of the fertility potential in a prospective mate.*
But does a symmetrical face really mean good health?
Actually, quite possibly yes – and there is evidence to back it up! Australian psychologist Gillian Rhodes co-authored a study that compared people’s facial symmetry with their medical records. The study concluded that the people with the most beautiful faces actually had the cleanest bill of health! It seems some people really do have it all!
But why are ‘average’ faces considered beautiful?
The theory is that when choosing a partner to have children with, our natural instincts are to choose a healthy and fit partner who will likely pass on ‘good genes’ to our children. On a subconscious level, when we see an unusual face we may see that person as being atypical and possibly unhealthy.
Now be warned…the studies of attraction begin to take a strange turn.
We apparently are also attracted to people who may look or smell most like our parents…Studies from the University of Pecs in Hungary (among others) indicate that people may seek out a partner that looks like their parents. Women may look for a man who is like their father and men want to be able to see something of their mother in their ideal mate.
And studies from the University of Oslo indicate that people tend to be attracted to partners that look like themselves! Strange indeed.
So evolution may explain why we find certain physical traits attractive—to a degree. But in dealing with individual attraction, a lot of other factors come into play as well. A person’s cultural conditioning, psychological and familial influences as well as an individual’s personal preferences and temperament. And one other important factor….inner beauty.
In a series of fascinating studies conducted by Kevin Kniffin and David Sloan Wilson, inner beauty, or positive social traits significantly amps up a person’s attractiveness. The researchers actually gave a final beauty tip: “If you want to enhance your physical attractiveness, become a valuable social partner.” Definitely not your standard beauty tip!
The results of these studies do suggest that if you want to improve your physical attractiveness, improving your character may be the most effective thing you can do.
So…if beauty comes from within – Be an absolute knockout!
*Buss, David (2003) . The Evolution of Desire (second ed.). New York: Basic Books. pp. 51–4.