It might surprise many to hear that they are neither good-looking nor ugly. The illusion of physical attractiveness has been wired into the brain by the DNA that has been affected by evolution for many years. Through evolution, humans have learned to identify what is attractive and what is not and selected the traits that pass the meter for physical attractiveness.
But the basis for human attraction is not universal because it could also vary per culture, just as how humans do not easily distinguish a physically attractive rat, but a rat can identify which of the other rats are attractive to them.
How Do Humans Typically Measure Physical Attractiveness?
An article in Medium listed some traits that humans usually look to measure another person's physical attractiveness. First on the list is the symmetry of a person's features. Humans tend to rate a higher score on people with symmetrical faces than those with less symmetry.
Other factors for physical attractiveness are youth, body fat, and nice hair. People tend to prefer youthful faces as they respond more positively towards them. While the perception of body fat and having nice hair has changed over the years, as evident in the artifact Venus of Willendorf that dates back in the Paleolithic era, which shows a fat body of a woman with braided hair and today's standards.
Moreover, ancient people and some cultures see women with wider hips and big buttocks as physically attractive for believing that they are better in childbirth and more fertile than those with narrow hips. However, as Science Daily reported, that wider hips do not mean that they are better than narrow hips in giving birth.
Lastly, Medium listed that eyes such as those of Bette Davis' are a factor for human attraction. Paleolithic women are said to put makeup around their eyes to draw attention to them. Sometimes, it even helped people get jobs and connect to other people. Some women even see it as their most important feature.
What Role Does Evolution Play in Human Attraction?
An article in Psychology Today discusses that physical attractiveness might catch people's attention immediately, but human attraction is deeper and more complex than that.
Psychology professor David Buss from the University of Texas said that standards of human attraction are fundamentally anchored in adaptive problems that men and women solve during mate selection.
For instance, in an evolutionary sense, men's adaptive problem is that they are given no guidance of human female ovulation because it is concealed, unlike other primates that signal fertility in visible ways. Buss says that human males have to detect fertility from physical cues that correlate it.
Since fertility in women peaks during their youth, particularly when they are in their mid-20s, and declines at age 50, fertility-related cues on women are mostly associated with youth and health. This has been an evolved universal standard in determining female attractiveness.
But evolutionary standards also work on both men and women. So, men with good health and likely to provide and protect, as evident in their broad shoulders, athleticism, and deep voice, are seen as physically attractive.
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