Beauty In Humans Is More Complex Than We Thought

A new scientific study has determined that beauty — as a concept — within the human race is much, much more complicated than previously thought. In fact, according to researchers, in no other species on earth is beauty such a complex concept. Beauty in human beings is based not only on physical aspects of the beauty — or lack thereof — being observed, but on the psychological makeup of the individual making the beauty assessment.

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This latest scientific beauty study, which is published in the scientific journal, Current Biology, states that every human being’s individual personal experiences strongly dictate what we, as humans, find beautiful in other people. In fact, the researchers behind the new study state that the perception of beauty in humans is so varied, that we only agree with other humans on what is beautiful about half the time.

Assistant Professor of Psychology, Jeremy Wilmer from Wellesley College, explains.

“If you were to rate faces [for attractiveness] and I were to rate the same faces, we would agree about 50% of the time. In our case, we found that even though identical twins share all of their genes and their family environment they were really, really different from each other in their facial aesthetic preferences.”

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So, does all this mean that there no absolutes — speaking of physical attributes — that are universal when it comes to the quality of beauty in human beings? No. According to the researchers, a majority of the population or a culture may all agree on what physical attributes are perceived as beautiful. Qualities such as a symmetrical face and symmetrical bodies are often perceived as being intrinsic indicators of beauty. However, according to the study, within each overarching category of agreed-upon beauty attributes, there are another whole host of beauty indicators which are individual to each person’s psyche.

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Those overarching beauty indicators actually speak to why each of us is said to be attracted to a certain “type” of individual. Even though that is the case, within those types, there are myriad different opinions across the population when it comes to beauty.

Other factors that influence what human beings subconsciously and consciously assess when they gauge beauty in other humans might be media influences, the subject’s personality and background, and a perception of genetic strength. For example, when a certain “type” of man or woman is repeatedly presented as beautiful in films and on television, gradually, over time, the population will be more receptive to the idea that that “type” of man or woman does in fact possess a certain level of beauty.

On another level, characteristics that have nothing to do with the subject’s body or face can often make them more attractive, (ie. their financial standing or sense of humor). Moreover, the observance of a certain genetic strength is something that we, as humans, assess without even thinking about it. This observance of beauty lies at the core of who we are as a species, and indicates our innate desire to seed the planet with the best versions of ourselves.

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The aforementioned universal observance that those individuals that are more symmetrical are viewed as possessing more beauty than those who do not is not unique to human beings. Scientists have observed behavior in the animal kingdom — especially among birds — that indicates that most animals will choose a more symmetrically aligned mate when given a choice. Scientists believe that this again goes back to a species’ innate desire to repopulate with the best versions of themselves, and that even in the animal kingdom, beauty is associated with genetic strength.

What do you think about beauty? Who do you think is — or isn’t — beautiful? Do you know why, or why not? Share your thoughts below.

[Photos by Rob Kim, Rick Diamond, Kevork Djansezian, Ben Gabbe and Charley Gallay: Getty Images]