Appearance of symmetry, beauty, and health in human faces

Zaidel, D. W. and Aarde, S. M. and Baig, K. (2005) Appearance of symmetry, beauty, and health in human faces. [Journal (Paginated)]

Full text available as:



Symmetry is an important concept in biology, being related to mate selection strategies, health, and survival of species. In human faces, the relevance of left-right symmetry to attractiveness and health is not well understood. We compared the appearance of facial attractiveness, health, and symmetry in three separate experiments. Participants inspected front views of faces on the computer screen and judged them on a 5-point scale according to their attractiveness in Experiment 1, health in Experiment 2, and symmetry in Experiment 3. We found that symmetry and attractiveness were not strongly related in faces of women or men while health and symmetry were related. There was a significant difference between attractiveness and symmetry judgments but not between health and symmetry judgments. Moreover, there was a significant difference between attractiveness and health. Facial symmetry may be critical for the appearance of health but it does not seem to be critical for the appearance of attractiveness, not surprisingly perhaps because human faces together with the human brain have been shaped by adaptive evolution to be naturally asymmetrical.

Item Type:Journal (Paginated)
Keywords:symmetry, face, faces, beauty, attractiveness, asymmetry, brain, cortex, evolution, perception
Subjects:Neuroscience > Neuropsychology
Biology > Evolution
Psychology > Evolutionary Psychology
ID Code:4349
Deposited By: Zaidel, Dahlia W.
Deposited On:14 May 2005
Last Modified:11 Mar 2011 08:56

References in Article

Select the SEEK icon to attempt to find the referenced article. If it does not appear to be in cogprints you will be forwarded to the paracite service. Poorly formated references will probably not work.

Grammer, K., & Thornhill, R. (1994). Human (homo sapiens) facial attractiveness and sexual selection: The role of symmetry and averageness. Journal of Comparative Psychology, 108, 233-242.

Knowner, R. (1996). Facial asymmetry and attractiveness judgment in developmental perspective. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 22, 662-675.

Rhodes, G., Proffitt, F., Grady, J. M., & Sumich, A. (1998). Facial symmetry and the perception of beauty. Psychonomic Bulletin and Review, 5, 659-669.

Samuels, C. A., Butterworth, G., Roberts, T., Graupner, L., & Hole, G. (1994). Facial aesthetics: babies prefer attractiveness to symmetry. Perception, 23, 823-831.

Zaidel, D. W., Chen, A. C., & German, C. (1995). She is not a beauty even when she smiles: Possible evolutionary basis for a relationship between facial attractiveness and hemispheric specialization. Neuropsychologia, 33, 649-655.


Repository Staff Only: item control page