Monday, March 28, 2005

Could similar facial features suppress attraction?

At BBC News, I find a short article with the title "Same face builds trust, not lust". The scientific study cited let students rate faces for trustworthiness and attractivity. They were shown pairs of faces where one of the faces had been altered to look more like the student's own face.

It turned out that the majority of the students rated the individuals similar to themselves as more trustworthy, but less sexually attractive. This result is taken to mean that "people steer clear of those who look like family to avoid inbreeding".

Not that people really used to know what they looked like (mirrors are quite new in the scheme of things). Thus, they should not really be (or at least have been) able to subconsciously conclude "like me = family". Of course, they could look at their own family and rate likeness _that_ way, I suppose. (Now I want to see a study where all the students are adopted and see if they react to their own facial features or those of their adoptive family)

And it has been proven somewhere (don't remember exactly where) that people do only look at a few facial features when they "classify" faces. All people do not necessarily look at the same features - that could skew the results of this test quite a bit if the researchers altered features that the testperson disregards.

And I also wonder if the testpersons were all heterosexual, and if the features altered were also altered to look more male if transferred from a woman to a man and vice versa. Otherwise, the testperson could decide that the women looked "unfeminine" or the men "unmanly" - which is generally considered to be a turnoff (partly rational, since it is tied to hormonal levels and such).


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