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Evol Psychol. 2011 Apr 6;9(2):137-46.

Preliminary evidence that the limbal ring influences facial attractiveness.

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Department of Cognitive Sciences, University of California Irvine, Irvine, CA, USA.


The limbal ring of the eye appears as a dark annulus where the iris meets the sclera. Both width and opacity of the limbal ring are influenced by iris pigmentation and optical properties of the region. With age the limbal ring becomes less prominent, making it a probabilistic indicator of youth and health. This raises the question: Are judgments of facial attractiveness sensitive to this signal in a potentially adaptive way? Here we show that the answer is yes. For male and female observers, both male and female faces with a dark and distinct limbal ring are rated as more attractive than otherwise identical faces with no limbal ring. This result is observed not just for upright faces but also for inverted faces, suggesting that the limbal ring is processed primarily as a local feature rather than as a configural feature in the analysis of facial beauty. We also discuss directions for future research that can clarify the role of the limbal ring in the visual perception of facial attractiveness.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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