Men find women with simple faces more attractive, study finds

Researchers find that men are more attracted to faces that are easily processed in the brain

Elsa Vulliamy
Saturday 05 March 2016 15:24 GMT
Some scientists have claimed that Kate Moss owes her beauty to her symmetrical features
Some scientists have claimed that Kate Moss owes her beauty to her symmetrical features

Simpler faces are more attractive to men, a new study has found.

Researchers asked men to rate the attractiveness of women’s faces, and found that women with ‘simple’ faces were rated as more attractive.

The study suggests that this is because simpler faces are easier for our brains to process, and this is why they are more pleasant to look at.

The researchers developed a computer algorithm which “models the sparseness of the activity of simple cells in the primary visual cortex of humans when coding images of female faces”.

The faces that were rated most attractive were also the ones that were the most “sparsely coded” – the ones that were most easily processed in the visual cortex.

The ages of the women, skin roughness and facial symmetry were all controlled to ensure accurate results.

The study said that how easily processed a face was “explained up to 17 per cent of variance in attractiveness”.

Prof Bill von Hippel, a psychology professor at the University of Queensland told that the study “raises the possibility that symmetrical faces, faces without unusual features, are perceived as attractive partially because they’re processed more easily.”

Prof van Hippel also said that we may be attracted to logos and emoticons the same for the same reason.

“We see the Nike swoosh or the word Coke and it’s processed easily by virtue of its familiarity and that makes it more positive,” he said.

“Think about an emoticon. You have two dots and a curved line that immediately everyone processes as a smile. It’s sparse, it’s plain. It’s familiar, and it’s easy to understand.”

The study says that results support recent advances in psychology and neuroscience that “suggest that aesthetic preferences in part are a perceptual bias favouring efficiently coded stimuli”.

It also added that the study may imply that we don't have as much choice as we like to think when it comes to who we find attracted - our brains are hard-wired to be more attracted to some faces over others.

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