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What makes someone objectively beautiful?

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Beauty may be in the eye of all beholders with those attractive lovelies among you being strikingly average. I am ready for my close-up Mr. DeMille.

Asked by: Sheikh Hussai, Loughton

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Psychologists have found that faces we rate as attractive tend to be highly symmetrical, and the positioning of their features – such as the distance between the eyes – tends to be very ‘average’ (that is, it reflects the average of all the different configurations seen in the wider population). Even tiny babies prefer to look at average and symmetrical faces, which suggests an innate preference.

It’s not known for sure why we’re attracted to these kinds of faces, but two theories are that facial symmetry somehow signals good health, and that average faces are attractive because they feel familiar.

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Authors

Dr Christian Jarrett is a cognitive neuroscientist, science writer and author. He is the Deputy Editor of Psyche, the sister magazine to Aeon that illuminates the human condition through psychology, philosophy and the arts. Jarrett also created the British Psychological Society's Research Digest blog and was the first ever staff journalist on the Society's magazine, The Psychologist. He is author of Great Myths of The Brain and Be Who You Want: Unlocking the Science of Personality Change.

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