Science never ceases to surprise me. But, in this segment of ‘Did You Know?’ we just might surprise you!
Did you know that the more symmetrical your face is, the more attractive you seem to others? Yes, symmetrical faces are known to be sexy. This means that facial symmetry is more important than any other physical quality when it comes to how good looking someone is. For example: Here is an image of Beyoncé with a black line splitting her face right down the middle.
If you look at the image very closely, you can see that her face is actually not perfectly symmetrical. But when we use a computer program to make her face symmetrical, it makes her more attractive than she already is.
In the photo above, her right side is mirrored so that it is perfectly symmetrical. Studies have shown that our brains love looking at perfectly symmetrical images. So our brains technically favor the computerized image over her real face from Fig.1 (the original image).
Here is another example with Leonardo DiCaprio. Again, this is an image with a black line splitting his face right down the middle.
Now let’s look at the side made to be perfectly symmetrical.
As you can tell, the left side looks quite different from the original. But again, our eyes love to see that symmetrical image, no matter how gorgeous a person might look without the symmetry.
The photo above is an image of the computer program duplicating the right side of his face. And even though Leo looks different here, remember that symmetry is sexy.
So the next time you are checking someone out, ignore looking at their the biceps or chest, and try looking straight at them. And for goodness sake, remember, symmetry is only one aspect of beauty.
The Average Face
What about people not so blessed with a symmetrical face. Well, turns out there is some fascinating science behind the average looking face as well!
Have you ever been told you look average? Or how about…
“Hey, don’t I know you from somewhere? I swear we’ve met before.”
“Oh wow, you look just like someone I know! Your face is so familiar…”
Do you get this all the time? It sounds like you may have an average face. Yup, this is a real thing.
But, fear not! As annoying or frustrating as frequently hearing these phrases may be, science says you’re actually better off for it.
Average Joes and Plain Janes
Having a typical, average face actually gives those possessing it a psychological advantage: they are considered the most trustworthy.
One would presume that people would trust others more if they deemed them more attractive, but research says that is not the case. Dr. Carmel Sofer, a behavioral scientist, determined that “what is typical is good” in her recent study. She argues that face typicality is an important phenomenon when it comes to general, social perceptions of others.
Dr. Sofer simply explained it here:
“Face typicality likely indicates familiarity and cultural affiliation — as such, these findings have important implications for understanding social perception, including cross-cultural perceptions and interactions.”
As humans, we like and we trust what is familiar to us. In her research, she compared trustworthiness judgements of people across faces ranging from more attractive to more typical and found that the judgements peaked when evaluating faces that were considered average. As the faces in the study grew more distinctive and unique, the deemed trustworthiness of those faces plummeted.
It is interesting to note here that attractivness did not make a difference – whether the typical face or the distinct face was attractive or not made no difference in trust levels.
This research has gone where none has gone before: the findings here have cast a new light on the influence typical faces have on perceived trustworthiness and social perceptions. Do the high trust levels associated with having a typical face change when visiting other countries? Are there different “typical faces” across cultures? We can’t wait for more answers.
Bonus: Learn how to read a face.