Why Do We Like To See Attractive Faces?
Voting for contestants of beauty pageants and predicting which person is more likely to get the head-boy or head-girl award at your school have one surprising aspect in common:
The most attractive contestant is likely to win.
We are chemically hardwired to not only seek attractive faces but also trust them with responsibility and other morally good aspects.
A recent study explored the effects of MOR or μ-opiod receptors. When participants were injected with a drug that increased release of MOR in the brain, the participants lingered longer on pictures of attractive faces and gave them extremely favourable ratings.
The opposite effect was seen when MOR-reducing drugs are given.
However, this research finding is not entirely new and surprising. Some researchers have questioned whether this is an in-born trait or whether we acquire the liking for attractive faces because we grow up being surrounded by movies, media and other messages that suggest a preference and glamour for attractiveness.
The answer comes in the form of research done with babies. Many studies have found that even babies tend to look longer and smile at attractive faces, thus confirming that it is not so much the effect of socialization but an in-born phenomenon, and, as the recent study establishes, something which is neurochemically hardwired.
Why do we have this preference for attractive faces?
Our evolution provides good answers. As we were evolving, who to trust was a big question, because friendship with the wrong person or tribe and the wrong sort of partner could be devastating for our chances of populating the earth and further chances of evolution. Therefore, if someone looked attractive and pleasing, they were easier to trust. And thus, attractiveness, or rather the hunt for it, is hardwired in the brain.
But what exactly does attractive mean in this context?
It doesn’t necessarily mean fair. It means a face with good symmetry, and shape. It also means that the person looks happy, healthy and emphatic.
People with a good amount of clean blood flow tend to have a clear skin and that is why we prefer clear skin.
So in essence, we seek ‘attractiveness’ because features like symmetry etc indicate a healthy, happy person who may make a good mating partner or a good tribe partner.
However, implications of attractiveness are far from over.
Study after study is showing that certain kinds of people are preferred in elections, interview situations and even as romantic partners. These people are attractive, but more than mere looks, they have the following traits:
big and happy smile,
and fitness level.
All of these aspects of the person make it easier for our brain to process their image as it fits our ideal image.
Therefore, many of the above indicators show that you can work on yourself and increase your attractiveness levels despite how you look. That is the best take-away from this article, and could make a difference to all spheres of your life.
Following video explain this concept in a bit more detail - How do you define beauty: