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Trends Cogn Sci. 1999 Dec;3(12):452-460.

Facial attractiveness.

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  • 1Department of Biology, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM 87131-1091, USA.


Humans in societies around the world discriminate between potential mates on the basis of attractiveness in ways that can dramatically affect their lives. From an evolutionary perspective, a reasonable working hypothesis is that the psychological mechanisms underlying attractiveness judgments are adaptations that have evolved in the service of choosing a mate so as to increase gene propagation throughout evolutionary history. The main hypothesis that has directed evolutionary psychology research into facial attractiveness is that these judgments reflect information about what can be broadly defined as an individual's health. This has been investigated by examining whether attractiveness judgments show special design for detecting cues that allow us to make assessments of overall phenotypic condition. This review examines the three major lines of research that have been pursued in order to answer the question of whether attractiveness reflects non-obvious indicators of phenotypic condition. These are studies that have examined facial symmetry, averageness, and secondary sex characteristics as hormone markers.

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