The theory of sexual selection suggests several possible explanations for the development of standards of physical attractiveness in humans. Asymmetry and departures from average proportions may be markers of the breakdown of developmental stability. Supernormal traits may present age- and sex-typical features in exaggerated form. Evidence from social psychology suggests that both average proportions and (in females) “neotenous” facial traits are indeed more attractive. Using facial photographs from three populations (United States, Brazil, Paraguayan Indians), rated by members of the same three populations, plus Russians and Venezuelan Indians, we show that age, average features, and (in females) feminine/neotenous features all play a role in facial attractiveness.
Sexual selectionPhysical attractivenessFluctuating asymmetryEvolutionary psychology