Human Attractiveness Explained

There are deeper reasons for finding some people unattractive, others only mildly attractive, and the final lot, drop dead gorgeous. One can only be one of these levels of attractive are demonstrated by two factors. A subject can only be one of these three, no middle ground. The two main factors are symmetry and familiarity. These may seem superficial but they have been found to denote deeper factors.

Physical appeal can be gauged within one hundredth of a second. During this time, one can come up with a perception of the subject. Personal preferences may factor in but symmetry and familiarity are common across the board. They provide a more rational explanation for being attracted by some people and barely taking note of others.

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Facial Symmetry

Draw a line down the middle of the face. How similar are both halves to each other? Do they mirror each other exactly? The more similar both halves are, the more attractive they are deemed. There have been trials to prove the viability of this idea. Faces were morphed together. The more faces were added to the composite, the more attractive they seemed. This is because adding more faces to the composite gradually erased the asymmetricism.

It is impossible for one to make this connection on their own but research has related facial symmetry to health. It is a sign that one was not exposed to stressors due to childhood sickness. It is thought to be a sign of genetic fitness and developmental stability. This means that the person is a genetic goldmine. The latter refers to lack of complications or exposure to gestational stressors.

Some studies have shown the attraction to facial symmetry to be a result of sensitivity to asymmetry or appreciation of symmetry in nature and art. Other studies have said that symmetry can be seen as a physical manifestation of the big five personality traits. An attractive person will usually score high on openness, agreeability, conscientiousness, and extraversion but very low on neuroticism. These traits make their company very enjoyable.

There is a controversial subject of offspring. Since people with symmetrical faces are thought to be genetic goldmines, they are thought to have the ability to provide attractive offspring. Attractive offspring were in ancient times worth a lot more than some material possessions. Today, the same is true but on a less commercial level.

The degree of symmetry or asymmetry determines where one will be ranked. Is it unattractive, attractive, or extremely attractive? The unattractive person will have a completely asymmetrical face while the extremely attractive one will be on the other side of the spectrum with a maximum level of facial symmetry. It has been found that some people prefer a tiny negligible bit of asymmetry. They find that a speck of imperfection brings perfection to the whole picture. Utmost perfection may be disturbing to some. The same might apply to art for some people.


Information in the Psychological Science in 2013 suggested that familiarity played a bigger role in attraction than symmetry. It is termed the mere exposure effect. It has been used for eons in advertising and other areas.

A trial conducted had some people of both genders look at pictures of faces. Some of the faces were repeated in the selection while others appeared only once. The results had the most recurring faces ranking highest on the attractiveness scale. This was found to be due to the added exposure.

Once a person has been exposed to a particular stimulus several times, they regard it as safe and will therefore like it. One’s liking or reaction to a weird word or a picture will most likely be positive f the person has been exposed to it before. The probability rises as more exposure is experienced. The same thing happens when the first impression was horrible. The dislike only increases the more times exposure is exercised.

Perceptual fluency is the ease with which information is processed. Recurring exposure to stimulus makes it easier for the brain to process reaction to it. Thus a positive affection to the stimulus.

The face does not have to be familiar. Even familiar behavior causes the same effects. This is how advertising works. One will try hard not to view an ad but only hearing the name of the brand is enough. The next time one encounters the same brand, if the first time was pleasant, they are likely to react affectionately to it.

Unfortunately, perception fluency also applies to harmful stimulus. For example, if one grew up in a violent environment. They are likely to have trouble leaving violent situations in adulthood. Most people who stay in toxic relationships only do because that is what their brain sees as familiar and will therefore stick until intervened.

These two factors have led to the prevalence of plastic surgery. People seek to make their faces more symmetrical by having doctors perform procedures.

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