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Richard Russell, Aurélie Porcheron, Jennifer Sweda, Emmanuelle Mauger, Frederique Morizot; Facial contrast is a cue for health perception. Journal of Vision 2015;15(12):1213. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/15.12.1213.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Facial contrast—the luminance and color contrast between internal facial features and the surrounding skin—is a cue for several aspects of face perception, including face detection, sex classification, age estimation, and judgments of attractiveness. It is also increased by makeup. Here we report evidence that facial contrast is also a cue for the perception of health from the face. Facial contrast was measured from a large sample of Caucasian female faces, and was found to predict ratings of perceived health. Most aspects of facial contrast were positively related to perceived health, meaning that faces with higher facial contrast appeared healthier. For a subsequent experiment we increased and decreased the facial contrast of a subset of these images and presented them to participants in a two-alternative forced-choice task. Participants selected faces with increased facial contrast as appearing healthier than faces with decreased facial contrast. Together these results show that facial contrast is a cue for perceiving how healthy people look. This provides additional weight to the notion that facial contrast is an important cue for face perception.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2015
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