I Just Want An Average Gal

In some college class, I learned the fact that "averageness" in human faces was physically attractive. This seemed strange. Apparently though, if you take a bunch of humans of the same gender and compile their faces into one, you will end up with a good-looking person. And the more faces you compile, the better-looking our composite friend gets. The reason is that you are "averaging out" features of all different shapes and sizes and coming out with something very simple, very ordinary, and very symmetrical, and we are biologically programmed to find that attractive.

The main thing I took from this (and from the pictures below, which I found on the internet, which made me remember learning this, which made me decide to tell you about it) is that as much as our society influences the way we think and the things we like or dislike, our preference for attractive human faces have nothing to do with society or culture. Other aspects of appearance, such as pale versus tan, fat versus skinny, etc. are partially a product of our society. But not faces.

This is a weird and random entry, I know. But it's interesting.






The 1-10 scale for girls was so last year. I'm onto the 1-128 facial composite scale.

To see the faces compiling, one by one, click here and view the movie. Then click the link below the movie, and the number of faces will double.

http://homepage.psy.utexas.edu/homepage/group/langloislab/newformat/morph2faces.html

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

here's my issue with this though... how do they choose the 4 people for the 4-face composites? i guess it's got to be a random selection, but it seems that with both genders, the 4 people of the 4-face composites happen to be heavier and to have worse hair, right? ...or am i just completely missing the point?

Tim Urban said...

The thing is, the people used in these composites are not especially good looking (you can see this on the link)-- they work in a science lab for Christ sake. So any 4 of them taken randomly will not be a handsome crowd. Averaging only 4 is not yet average enough for them to be attractive (although even that is an improvement on the individuals).

The hair is weird because any 4 people's hair averaged will be weird, but after 32, all the variations average out to normal looking hair. As for your point about the heaviness, I think all the guy faces look equally heavy, and the 4-face girl being a bit bigger than the others is more of a coincidence than anything.

Anonymous said...

A have a huge crush on the 32-face composite lady. I can't think about anything else. It's ruining my day.

Anonymous said...

I have a huge crush on Tim!

Anonymous said...

me too

Kai said...

my problem with this, is that they came out with these measurements (average distance from top of forehead to eye, between mouth and nose, etc) for the composite, and therefore "attractive" human being. and the people that best fit these measurements were like weather girls and reality show actresses. and the people that really didn't were like naomi campbell and angelina jolie. i feel like from these composites you get "more attractive" people, but you also will never get a REALLY hot girl.

Anonymous said...

kai- this is true, but "interesting" looks can also go very wrong, like... tori spelling. these composites are made to represent pleasant-looking people who are attractive to the general person, instead of being a really unique-looking person who is attractive to some and not to others, agreed?

Anonymous said...

I think Kai's point is that while the composites will always be pleasant, attractive faces, true beauty requires something more-- most beautiful faces have something striking about them, like especially big eyes or high cheekbones. Or, something exotic like mixed race. In other words, the composites will end up being attractive, but there's a ceiling they cannot eclipse.

Anonymous said...

obvi that's what she meant

Kai said...

yeah, you're both right. i think that you get more exceptional looking people (either tori or angelina) when you're working outside the box. i guess when i see faces like the composites i think oh, okay, rather than wow. and mixed race people are hot.

Anonymous said...

hey tim! post a new entry soon, please and thank you.

love,
a nonny mouse

Anonymous said...

just thought i'd let everyone know that my word verification is teitel. sounds like a) a dirty word, or b) the name of a character from fiddler on the roof

Anonymous said...

Mine is gsvetpd.

Anonymous said...

mine's vibmirth...mmm mirth

Anonymous said...

the 32 face girl looks slightly like nicole.