On Cognitive Daily, we have editorial standards. We won’t post on a study which we don’t think is worthwhile. Fortunately here I have no such restrictions.
Consider this article from Brain and Cognition: “Appearance of Symmetry, Beauty, and Health in Human Faces.” What the researchers did is to show participants pictures of faces and ask them to rate them for symmetry, beauty, and health. Here’s what they found:
What they’re claiming this means is that beauty has nothing to do with perception of health and symmetry. Because, see, men are rated as less beautiful than women, but equally healthy and symmetrical.
How about looking at the individual faces that were rated lower than average for beauty and seeing if there was any corresponding dip in health and/or symmetry ratings? Or maybe consider men and women separately, since, I don’t know, there could just possibly be different standards of beauty for men and women. Apparently this was too demanding a task for these researchers, because they didn’t do it.
So all we know is that, on average, we rate faces as more healthy and symmetrical than beautiful, and that we think women are more beautiful than men. Call me underwhelmed — and this was published in a peer-reviewed journal.
Fortunately, most articles I read for CogDaily are excellent research. Given how difficult it is to get psychology articles published, I’m shocked that this one got through.
ZAIDEL, D., AARDE, S., & BAIG, K. (2005). Appearance of symmetry, beauty, and health in human faces Brain and Cognition, 57 (3), 261-263 DOI: 10.1016/j.bandc.2004.08.056