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Facial Preference


Skin coloration is a culturally-specific cue for attractiveness, healthiness, and youthfulness in observers of Chinese and western European descent.

Facial skin coloration signals information about an individual and plays an important role in social interactions and mate choice, due its putative association with health, attractiveness, and age. Whether skin coloration as an evolutionary significant cue is universal or specific to a particular culture is unclear and current evidence on the universality of skin color as a cue to health and attractiveness are equivocal. The current study used 80 calibrated, high-resolution, non-manipulated images of real human faces, either of Chinese or western European descent, which were rated in terms of attractiveness, healthiness, and perceived age by 44 observers, 22 western European (13 male; mean age ± SD = 24.27 ± 5.30) and 22 Chinese (7 male; mean age ± SD = 26.05 ± 3.96) observers. To elucidate the associations between skin coloration and these perceptual ratings and whether these associations are modulated by observer or image ethnicity, a linear mixed-effect model was setup with skin lightness (L*; CIELAB), redness (a*) and yellowness (b*), observer and image ethnicity as independent variables and perceived attractiveness, healthiness, and estimated age as dependent variables. We found robust positive associations between facial skin lightness (L*) and attractiveness, healthiness, and youthfulness, but only when Chinese observers judge facial images of their own ethnicity. Observers of European descent, on the other hand, associated an increase in yellowness(b*) with greater attractiveness and healthiness in Chinese facial images. We find no evidence that facial redness is positively associated with these attributes; instead, an increase in redness (a*) is associated with an increase in the estimated age of European facial images. We conclude that observers of both ethnicities make use of skin color and lightness to rate attractiveness, healthiness, and perceived age, but to a lesser degree than previously thought. Furthermore, these coloration cues are not universal and are utilized differently within the Chinese and western European ethnic groups. Our study adds to the growing body of work demonstrating the importance of skin color manipulations within an evolutionary meaningful parameter space, ideally using realistic skin models based on physical parameters

Different colour predictions of facial preference by Caucasian and Chinese observers

Different colour predictions of facial preference by Caucasian and Chinese observers
Facial colour characteristics convey vital personal information and influence social interactions and mate choices as contributing factors to perceived beauty, health, and age. How various colour characteristics would affect facial preference and whether there is a cultural difference are not fully understood. Here, we provide a useful and repeatable methodology for skin colour research based on a realistic skin model to investigate the effect of various facial colour characteristics on facial preference and compare the role of colour predictors in Caucasian (CA) and Chinese (CN) populations. Our results show that, although the averaged skin colour of facial areas plays a limited role, together with colour variation and contrast, there are stronger links between colour and facial preference than previously revealed. We also find large cultural differences in facial colour perceptions. Interestingly, Chinese observers tend to rely more heavily on colour cues to judge facial preference than Caucasian observers.

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