January 28 Human Physical Attractiveness

January 28 Human Physical Attractiveness - Exam Next Week...

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Exam Next Week Bring pink parscore form and pencil Multiple choice Anything through today’s lecture or corresponding readings could appear on exam
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PHYSICAL ATTRACTIVENESS Do humans possess specialized mechanisms that are designed to find particular physical cues attractive? An evolutionary approach predicts that any such cues should have signaled health, fertility, or other beneficial traits (e.g., resource acquisition abilities, parenting abilities) in ancestral environments Can compare this position against null hypothesis that attractive traits are arbitrary (‘beauty in eye of beholder’) “For other animals the physical ideal is 100% instinctively determined. Thus all baboons of a particular species pursue the same ideal. … For humans, on the other hand, ideals of beauty are learned … there is no such thing as natural human beauty.” (Polhemus, 1988)
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Early Emergence of Attractiveness Judgments Had been generally argued that children learn norms of attractiveness over first few years of life Langlois et al. (1987) exposed infants to pairs of adult women face photos in which one had been pre-rated (by adults) as attractive and the other pre-rated as unattractive Video camera filmed the infants and raters blind to photo side on the screen scored fixations to the left and right sides
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4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Looking time (secs) 6-8 mnths 2-3 mnths Attractive Unattractive
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Langlois et al. (1990) – 12 month olds played more and had more positive affect when in presence of adult stranger in attractive vs. unattractive mask; played more with attractive vs. unattractive doll Many studies show that raters from distinct cultures generally show good agreement on judgments of facial attractiveness (correlations between .50 and .90) Infant and cross-cultural findings suggest may be species-typical frames for categorization of facial stimuli in terms of attractiveness Case for specialized attractiveness perception mechanisms would be much stronger if can show that features people find attractive do predict health, fertility, or other reproductive benefits
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Fluctuating Asymmetry (FA) – Asymmetry of the two sides of traits that are symmetrical on average in the population FA indexes “developmental instability” – because two sides are regulated by same genes, asymmetry implies disruption of the developmental program for traits Causes of developmental instability: pathogens (bacteria, viruses), plant toxins, mutations Benefits of choosing symmetrical partners Indirect benefits – Symmetry may index possession of genes well-adapted to local parasites, genes able to resist toxins, lack of mutations Direct benefits – Symmetry may indicate better overall condition and thus greater ability to provide resources, compete against other individuals, etc. Nonhuman species: FA predicts growth rate, survival probability, and mating success
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January 28 Human Physical Attractiveness - Exam Next Week...

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