We showed that composites (several faces morphed together) are rated generally more attractive by test subjects. But it still remains unclear whether this is due to the averaged proportions of the resulting face (=averageness hypothesis) or whether the skin-smoothing side effect of the morphing procedure causes this increase in attractiveness.
Therefore, we conducted another experiment: For each three unattractive
and three attractive faces of both sexes, we blended their proportions
into the average shape by 50%.
The result contradicts the predictions of the averageness hypothesis: The proportions of the average face are perceived as being more attractive compared to the proportions of unattractive faces, but not compared to the proportions of attractive faces. Thus, there are characteristic features that deviate from the average shape (e.g. narrow face, high cheek bones) and might make a face seem more attractive (see also characteristics of beautiful faces!).
So if it is not the facial proportions that make average faces look more beautiful, then it must be the skin that accounts for the shift in attractiveness. In order to find an answer to that problem, we created two pairs of faces (for each sex), which were identical in their face proportions. By keeping the face proportions constant we could compare different face surfaces (skin) with respect to their attractiveness. We let subjects compare the skin of the average face combined with the proportions of the prototypically attractive face as well as with the prototypically unattractive one (for details see report!)
It could be shown that it is the young appearing and smooth skin of
the computed average faces, which make them so attractive. Interestingly
enough, the same applies for male faces.
In this experiment different facial surfaces were compared
with one another keeping their facial proportions constant.
Our conducted experiments regarding the shape adaptions of the faces
clearly show that it is not the facial proportions but the skin that makes
average faces more attractive. Thus, the averageness hypothesis can be
refuted with respect to facial proportions!
Last modified: 01-07-2002, webmaster