World's beautiful women deny the law of averages

BABY-FACED women are considered beautiful because of Darwinian evolution rather than the influence of Hollywood, a study by psychologists suggests.

The assets of the typical screen goddess or catwalk supermodel - high cheek-bones, large eyes, full lips, clear skin and a cute chin - send an age-old signal to all races of youthfulness and fertility.

A scientific study of female faces flatly contradicts new-age feminist ideas, epitomised by the American writer Naomi Wolf who has argued that there is no such thing as a quality called beauty which 'objectively and universally exists'.

Researchers have found that female facial beauty appears to be universally accepted and transcends racial and national boundaries. The work suggests the appraisal of beauty has a deep-seated biological explanation.

The psychologists used computer-enhanced pictures of Caucasian and Oriental female faces in a survey of men and women from Japan and Britain. The men and women in both countries agreed on the same features which made a face - whether from their own or another racial group - more appealing.

The results of the study, published in today's Nature, also contradict an idea dating back more than a century - that a beautiful face is appealing because it is a collection of average features. In fact people in the survey invariably found certain key features, such as size of eyes, more attractive if they were not average.

David Perrett, a psychologist from the University of St Andrews in Fife, said the advent of computer graphics, which can distort a face slightly and produce a single composite image from a number of different faces, has revolutionised the study of attractiveness.

'It was thought for some time that attractiveness of faces was the result of a combination of average features. Our results are a flat contradiction of this. If anything there is an evolutionary direction away from the average,' Dr Perrett said.

He and his two colleagues - Keith May and Sakiko Yoshikawa - have discovered a tendency to like those traits associated with youthfulness in women.

As a woman becomes older the lower half of her face begins to fill out and her eyes begin to appear smaller because the skin around them becomes less elastic. There appears to have been an evolutionary advantage in looking younger, with high cheek-bones and larger- than-average eyes, Dr Perrett said. 'A lot of cosmetics are designed to accentuate cheek-bones and make the eyes stand out more.'

(Photographs omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: IT Service Desk Manager

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A great opportunity to join a p...

Recruitment Genius: Quantity Surveyor / Assistant Quantity Surveyor

£23698 - £30978 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This not-for-profit company man...

Recruitment Genius: Bench Joiner / Machinist - Full time or Freelance

£22000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Bench Joiner / Machinist is r...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Account Manager

£17000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This children's clothing compan...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones