Before we proceed, let it be said that we know personality accounts for a huge amount of why we find people attractive and what makes somebody a worthy partner, but for the purposes of this interesting study, the focus remains on what men and women find attractive when it comes to physical features. More specifically, this study explores the differences between women's self-perceived attractiveness and how heterosexual men rate attractiveness of said women.
We can all agree that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but interestingly enough, there are commonalities in our collective perceptions of beauty.
According to a new study by the Universidad Autonoma de Madrid in Spain, both men and women shared the same perceptions of beauty with regard to facial symmetry, while men were more inclined to be attracted to women whose faces could be described as average (i.e. the closeness of one's face to the population's average). Arriving at this conclusion, researchers used 266 female undergraduate students, aged 18-30, all of whom were asked to rate their self-perceived attractiveness on a scale of one to seven. From here, 44 straight men were then asked to rate the attractiveness of the participants, based on photographs in which they all looked into the camera with a neutral expression.
The tendency towards a 'symmetrical' face remains common among the sexes for biological reasons, so they explain. From an evolutionary perspective, good facial symmetry is said to signify positive developmental stability, which biologically, we've been designed to desire. As for the interest in 'averageness', this apparently has a lot to do with hetereozygosity which, well, we'll need a few weeks to get our head around. As per their male-perceived results, "faces closer to the average and with low values for maturity and asymmetry were highly rated."
In terms of self-perceived attractiveness, this study shows that as we get older, women get more comfortable in their own skin. "Age was positively associated, showing that older participants perceived themselves as being more attractive than younger ones."
"While no other facial feature significantly influences Self-perceived attractiveness, Male-rated attractiveness is importantly affected by both Facial Maturity and Facial Averageness. This supports, at least partially, the hypothesis that self-perceived and third-party measurements of attractiveness are independent variables."