(871 kB) Unger L, DeBruine LM, Jones BC, Little AC & Feinberg DR (2006). Attractive faces are not always average. Human Behavior and Evolution Society in Philadelphia, PA USA. June 2006.

Although some researchers have proposed that attractiveness is simply a function of averageness, others have found that caricaturing highly attractive faces (increasing the distance between average and "attractive" shape) makes them mathematically less average but more attractive. A visual adaptation procedure, which has previously been shown to increase both preferences for and perceived normality of previously viewed face types, was employed to test whether facial attractiveness is dependent upon faces' proximity to average or their distance from average in the direction of "attractiveness". After exposure to attractive versions of individual faces, the highly attractive composite was rated as more normal, but less attractive. After exposure to unattractive versions of individual faces, this same composite was rated as less normal and more attractive, opposing the theory that face preferences are an artifact of general preferences for averageness and supporting the proposal that there are specific non-average characteristics that are particularly attractive.

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