Why do we like beautiful faces

By M.Farouk Radwan, MSc.

Symmetry and ease of processing

When i talked about what makes a face physically attractive in my book The psychology of physical attraction i said that the human mind processes the face of attractive people in an easier way and so this gives the mind a relief.

I said also that the relatively higher degree of symmetry in those attractive faces is what makes them easier for the brain to process and hence we find it more pleasant to look at those faces.

But do you know that we like beautiful faces because looking at them actually changes our emotions?
Before i tell you how this happens let me explain quickly how the brain works. When you see a movie about a hero saving people then your brain will identify to a certain extent with that hero until you experience some of the emotions felt by that hero. See why movies make us cry.

This is why some movies make you feel strong, excited or even happy after you watch them. Now everything that we see with our eyes affects our emotions to a certain extent.

Do you remember how you felt the last time you saw a friend feeling extremely anxious while doing a presentation? probably you didn't feel good unless you hate this person. When you saw that person unable to speak and anxious you experienced some of his anxiety without noticing and this is why you didn't feel good. See Facial expressions and emotions

How beautiful faces change our moods

Now what if a person had a face that reflected strength and power?
In such a case by just looking at that face you can actually feel a little bit stronger or more powerful. Now compare this to someone who has a face that looks sad and miserable.

When you look at that latter face there is a very big chance that you will experience a little bit of unhappiness (on the unconscious level of course).

So apart from the facts that a beautiful face reflects a good health or that it can be easily processed by the brain we still find those faces attractive because they make us feel good as they transfer some emotions to us.

This is why you will find a strong correlation between beauty and the certain good qualities you are personally looking for. If for example courage was a very important personality trait for you then certainly you will find the face that reflects that emotion attractive without even realizing that this is the reason that got you attracted to that face. See Do people get attracted to those who are as physically attractive as them?

Why each person has different preferences

In a previous article with the title why do people like certain facial features i said that depending on the meaning you give to the facial features the level of attractiveness will be determined.

If for example you believed that people with sharp looking features are aggressive then you might be repelled by them. If on the other hand you believed that people with sharp looking features are emotionally stronger than others then you will get attracted to them.

In other words those factors determine what makes a face attractive to you:

  • Your interpretation of the person's facial features
  • The qualities you are looking for
  • The personality traits you want to avoid

This is exactly why you sometimes feel good when you look at a beautiful face.

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