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Larissa Vingilis-Jaremko, Daphne Maurer, David Feinberg; The attractiveness of facial avergeness: A comparison of adults and children. Journal of Vision 2011;11(11):448. doi: 10.1167/11.11.448.
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Adults rate averaged faces with feature shapes, sizes, and locations approximating the population mean as more attractive than most individual faces (e.g., Langlois & Rogmann, 1990). We are examining developmental changes in the influence of averageness on judgments of attractiveness by showing adults and children pairs of individual faces, in which one face was transformed 50% towards average, while the other face was transformed 50% away from average. In separate blocks of 16 trials, participants judged pairs of adult female faces, pairs of girls' faces, and pairs of boys' faces, and selected which face in each pair they found more attractive. Before testing, faces were made symmetrical and were rated as looking natural by adult judges (M score out of 5= 3 for all three face sets).
Adults (n = 36) rated the more average faces as more attractive than the less average faces for all three types of faces (M choice of more average > .92 for women's, girls', and boys' faces; all ps < .001).
Five-year-olds (n = 36) rated the more average faces as more attractive than the less average corresponding faces (all ps < .001). The strength of child preferences, however, was significantly weaker than that of adults (M choice of more average > .74; main effect of age, p < .001). Results will be compared to those from ongoing tests of older children.
The results indicate that the influence of averageness increases between age 5 and adulthood. The changes may reflect the refinement of an average face prototype as the child is exposed to more faces, increased sensitivity to configural and subtle featural cues in the faces experienced, and/or the greater salience of attractiveness after puberty.
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