Whilst you may find it easy to point out someone you find attractive, it can often be difficult to explain why. Kalology is the study of facial beauty and the way in which our beauty affects our lifestyle and role in society.
For years, researchers and scientists have been trying to pinpoint just what makes someone attractive and whether it is in fact hard-wired ratios as opposed to just physical traits. Experiments have shown that regardless of different cultures, genders and ages, attractive people are deemed beautiful globally. A Western person will be able to spot the same attractive Asian face as Asians themselves, and vice versa. Young children will pick out the same attractive faces as an adult would.
The power of beauty is undeniable. Beautiful people tend to earn more, have more successful relationships and are generally happier. As a world so obsessed with beauty, being able to define beauty can help us understand our society, our history and our genetics more accurately.
With research proving that the perception of beauty isn’t just a different opinion from person to person and there is, in fact, a globally accepted ‘attractive’ trait, scientists have been studying what exactly makes someone beautiful.
Facial symmetry is one of the main findings as to what measures conventional beauty. Typically, the more symmetrical a face is, the more attractive the person is deemed to be.
There are two main theories as to why symmetrical faces signify beauty, the first being that it reflects good health. Age, disease and infections can cause asymmetry in the face, whereas symmetry suggests a person has better health and better genes to pass onto their offspring. Humans, therefore, prefer a mating partner to have a symmetrical face.
The second theory is that people find it easier and quicker to process symmetrical faces as opposed to asymmetrical faces which can take a few moments to digest. This might explain why symmetrical faces perform better in experiments whereby test subjects have to choose the most beautiful face in a short time limit.
It isn’t just humans who admire facial symmetry, it’s a popular trait amongst the animal kingdom too. It has been proven that female swallows prefer males with symmetrical tail feathers as this displays better genes and good health.
When you think of beauty you often associate it with being unique and unusual, however, research shows that people actually find average faces the most beautiful. In many studies, it is, in fact, the computer-generated images where faces are morphed to create an ‘average’ look, which is picked up as being the most beautiful.
This could be because average faces are easier to process, whereas deviations from a symmetrical face such as a crooked nose or wonky teeth can be seen as disrupting beauty which is why people often opt for surgery to fix imperfections.
It isn’t just the face which signifies good genes and beauty but the body too. Men typically prefer a woman with a waist to hip ratio of 0.7. This golden ratio signifies good fertility as when women age and become less fertile their waist becomes less pronounced, so a younger body with a 0.7 ratio suggests a better mating partner. A Body Mass Index of 20.85 is also known as the optimal body size for women and suggests good health.
Women subconsciously tend to prefer men with a waist to hip ratio of 0.9 as this suggests a physically strong and healthy man. Broad shoulders and narrow hips are deemed most beautiful on a man.
Studies suggest that both men and women are more attracted to faces which resemble the faces of the people they grew up around, this typically means the mother and father but can also be other members of the close family.
Faces which have similar traits to your own are also picked out as more attractive which is why you commonly see couples who look similar to each other. There are unusual traits which are often matching such as ear size, neck and wrist circumference and middle finger length.
There are still lots of question as to why familiarity is such a key part in picking a partner but it explains why people choose people of the same beauty level as their own.
Symmetry, averageness, body ratios and familiarity are just some of the researched traits as to what makes someone beautiful. Everything from voice to hair colour can affect the beauty of an individual.
Women tend to subconsciously prefer a wide smile, small eyes, a big nose, a large voice and a deep voice as these all signify high levels of testosterone and a good protector for the family.
Men picked out high cheekbones, big eyes, a thin jaw, a small nose, narrow shoulders and a high, breathy voice as most attractive. In several studies, men also selected features of a woman aged around 24.8 years when women are at one of their most fertile ages.
The study of Kalology is not just about what makes someone beautiful but how this affects society as a whole. By understanding beauty, researchers have been able to look back at our ancestors to discover the traits which have been carried through in evolution to see how our perception of beauty has shaped the human face. For example, paleontologists at the National History Museum have found that men have developed shorter and broader faces which emphasize the brow bone and size of the jaw.
Beauty has a huge effect on society too and there are many advantages to being attractive.
Those with an attractive face are said to be 2-5 times more likely to be hired at a job interview and earn up to 16 percent more. There is also said to be a correlation between taller men and earning higher wages. Although these are shocking figures, it’s understandable when people who are hiring will subconsciously prefer beautiful faces and will choose them over those without conventional beauty. Generally, people like to surround themselves with beautiful people and there are no exceptions when it comes to coworkers.
Research has shown that attractive people are seen as being more honest and helpful, whereas unattractive people are seen as rude and unapproachable. Once again this explains why beautiful people are more likely to have better careers and relationships whereas others are left behind and even bullied at work or school.
Whilst people tend to choose partners who have similar levels of beauty as themselves, people will always try to go slightly more attractive than themselves. This means that the more conventionally beautiful you are, the more partners you have to choose from and the better genes you can pass onto your offspring. This results in more successful relationships and more choices.
According to research, people who have beauty are typically happier in life. They are more likely to look after themselves and enhance their own natural beauty with a good diet and healthy lifestyle, and with more successful careers, friendships and relationships, they are generally happier with life. This explains why so many people choose surgery to make themselves more beautiful and eventually, happier.
The science of facial beauty is fascinating as it not only tells us a lot about our own habits but also about our ancestor’s choices. Understanding beauty and levels of attractiveness can help us recognise our own choices both in friendships, careers and relationships.