Thursday, October 10, 2019

Beauty Is in the Eye of the Beholder: The Appraisal of Facial Attractiveness Requires Conscious Awareness, Contrary to Suggestions

Beauty Is in the Eye of the Beholder: The Appraisal of Facial Attractiveness and Its Relation to Conscious Awareness. Myron Tsikandilakis, Persefoni Bali, Peter Chapman. Perception, December 19, 2018.

Abstract: Previous research suggests that facial attractiveness relies on features such as symmetry, averageness and above-average sexual dimorphic characteristics. Due to the evolutionary and sociobiological value of these characteristics, it has been suggested that attractiveness can be processed in the absence of conscious awareness. This raises the possibility that attractiveness can also be appraised without conscious awareness. In this study, we addressed this hypothesis. We presented neutral and emotional faces that were rated high, medium and low for attractiveness during a pilot experimental stage. We presented these faces for 33.33 ms with backwards masking to a black and white pattern for 116.67 ms and measured face-detection and emotion-discrimination performance, and attractiveness ratings. We found that high-attractiveness faces were detected and discriminated more accurately and rated higher for attractiveness compared with other appearance types. A Bayesian analysis of signal detection performance indicated that faces were not processed significantly at-chance. Further assessment revealed that correct detection (hits) of a presented face was a necessary condition for reporting higher ratings for high-attractiveness faces. These findings suggest that the appraisal of attractiveness requires conscious awareness.

Keywords attractiveness, masking, awareness

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