Facial symmetry and judgements of apparent health: Support for a 'good genes' explanation of the attractiveness-symmetry relationship

Benedict Christopher Jones, A. C. Little, I. S. Penton-Voak, B. P. Tiddeman, D. M. Burt, D. I. Perrett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

184 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The "good genes" explanation of attractiveness posits that mate preferences favour healthy individuals due to direct and indirect benefits associated with the selection of a healthy mate. Consequently, attractiveness judgements are likely to reflect judgements of apparent health. One physical characteristic that may inform health judgements is fluctuating asymmetry as it may act as a visual marker for genetic quality and developmental stability. Consistent with these suggestions, a number of studies have found relationships between Facial symmetry and facial attractiveness. In Study 1, the interplay between facial symmetry, attractiveness, and judgements of apparent health was explored within a partial correlation design. Findings suggest that the attractiveness-symmetry relationship is mediated by a link between judgements of apparent health and facial symmetry. In Study 2, an opposite-sex bias in sensitivity to facial symmetry was observed when judging health. Thus, perceptual analysis of symmetry may be an adaptation facilitating discrimination between potential mates on the basis of apparent health. The findings of both studies are consistent with a "good genes" explanation of the attractiveness-symmetry relationship and problematic for the claim that symmetry is attractive as a by-product of the ease with which the visual recognition system processes symmetric stimuli. (C) 2001 Elsevier Science Inc. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)417-429
Number of pages12
JournalEvolution and Human Behavior
Volume22
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2001

Keywords

  • faces
  • attractiveness
  • perceived health
  • mate preferences
  • asymmetry
  • DEVELOPMENTAL STABILITY
  • BILATERAL SYMMETRY
  • SEXUAL SELECTION
  • BEAUTY
  • METAANALYSIS
  • AVERAGENESS
  • SHAPE

Cite this

Facial symmetry and judgements of apparent health: Support for a 'good genes' explanation of the attractiveness-symmetry relationship. / Jones, Benedict Christopher; Little, A. C.; Penton-Voak, I. S.; Tiddeman, B. P.; Burt, D. M.; Perrett, D. I.

In: Evolution and Human Behavior, Vol. 22, 2001, p. 417-429.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Jones, Benedict Christopher ; Little, A. C. ; Penton-Voak, I. S. ; Tiddeman, B. P. ; Burt, D. M. ; Perrett, D. I. / Facial symmetry and judgements of apparent health: Support for a 'good genes' explanation of the attractiveness-symmetry relationship. In: Evolution and Human Behavior. 2001 ; Vol. 22. pp. 417-429.
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