Human Nature

, Volume 12, Issue 4, pp 383–402 | Cite as

Stabilizing and directional selection on facial paedomorphosis

Averageness or juvenilization?
  • Paul WehrEmail author
  • Kevin MacDonald
  • Rhoda Lindner
  • Grace Yeung


Averageness is purportedly the result of stabilizing selection maintaining the population mean, whereas facial paedomorphosis is a product of directional selection driving the population mean towards an increasingly juvenile appearance. If selection is predominantly stabilizing, intermediate phenotypes reflect high genetic quality and mathematically average faces should be found attractive. If, on the other hand, directional selection is strong enough, extreme phenotypes reflect high genetic quality and juvenilized faces will be found attractive. To compare the effects of stabilizing and directional selection on facial paedomorphosis (juvenilization), graphic morphing and editing techniques were used to alter the appearance of composite faces to make them appear more or less juvenile. Both facial models and judges of attractiveness were from the CSU-Long Beach campus. Although effect sizes for both preferences were large, the effect for averageness was nearly twice that found for juvenilization, an indication that stabilizing selection influences preferences for facial paedomorphosis more so than directional selection in contemporary humans.

Key words

Averageness Facial Attractiveness Paedomorphosis 


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Copyright information

© Walter de Gruyter, Inc 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul Wehr
    • 1
    Email author
  • Kevin MacDonald
    • 2
  • Rhoda Lindner
    • 2
  • Grace Yeung
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  2. 2.California State UniversityLong Beach

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