It is impossible to understand attractiveness without reference to Darwin’s majestic theory. Humans are the product of biology and that biology has programmed us to seek out the mates that give us the greatest chance of passing our genes on to the next generation. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder – this is certainly true. Noted anthropologist Donald Symons put it another way:beauty is in the adaptations of the beholder. Continue reading
Today it is possible to use sophisticated software to produce images of faces so realistic that you can’t tell them from photographs of real people. A group of German researchers has taken advantage of this to investigate the precise features that make a face attractive or unattractive. Continue reading
Beards – who can resist them
Facial hair on men is a subject that provokes strong emotions. Some cultures have frowned upon beards. The ancient Romans approved of the clean shaven look. No Roman before Hadrian had a beard. Not many after him did either. In England the well scraped jaw is favoured by the upright Cromwellian maintainers of order. Beards are the province of the artistic and Bohemian. I am struggling to think of a bearded prime minister. The closest I can think of are the notable sideburns sported by Gladstone. In general, you might find the hairy to be fun but you don’t trust them with high office. The vicar can have a beard, but maybe not the bank manager. Continue reading
A recent paper from Denmark (where else?) suggests that everyone with blue eyes is descended from a single ancestor. I have blue eyes and so find this particularly interesting. I think it is fair to say that blue eyes are considered more attractive than brown ones- though this isn’t a major factor when it comes to what we find attractive.
Usually you can find some evolutionary advantage to attractive features. But I cannot think of any advantage to having any particular eye colour. I think it is simply that blue eyes are in a minority and so have a bit of novelty value.
If like me you were brought up in a fairly protestant work ethic sort of culture, you might well regard concern for one’s appearance as a superficial sort of thing. Grooming oneself might seem a form of vanity. Well maybe it is – but it turns out that potential employers don’t see it that way. A recent report in the Annals of the New York Acadamy of sciences suggests that looking good gets you a better job. Continue reading