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The Evolution of Beauty

Gregory Wilson

BEAUTY, the saying has it, is only skin deep. Not true. Skin is important (the cosmetics industry proves that). But so is what lies under it. In particular, the shape of people’s faces, determined by their bone structure, contributes enormously to how beautiful they are. And, since the ultimate point of beauty is to signal who is a good prospect as a mate, what makes a face beautiful is not only an aesthetic matter but also a biological one.

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  • Alessandra Rizzotti

    The research is really fascinating in this post: "Hormones such as estradiol and neurotransmitters such as serotonin, which regulate behaviour, also regulate some aspects of development. Change one and you will change the other. So in a species where friendliness is favoured because that species is social and the group members have to get on with each other—a species like Homo sapiens, for example—a “friendly” face is a feature that might actively be sought, both in mates and in children, because it is a marker of desirable social attitudes. And there is abundant evidence, reviewed by Dr Elia, both that it is indeed actively sought by Homo sapiens, and that it is such a reliable marker." And this is so interesting too- in a weird psychological way: "At least 15 studies have shown that mothers treat attractive children more favourably than unattractive ones, even though they say they don’t and may actually believe that. At least one of these studies showed this bias is true from birth." Just wondering if this article is trying to imply that friendly faces aren't necessarily beautiful- and that people tend to be friendlier to more attractive people?

    • Gregory Wilson

      I think the article is really trying to say people tend to be friendlier to more attractive people due to biology! It is first hand common sense that people who look better are treated better. I think because of the complexity and absolute vagueness of the argument that the author carefully treads the line between recognizing plausibility and fact of the matter.