Attractiveness of own-race, other-race, and mixed-race faces

Perception. 2005;34(3):319-40. doi: 10.1068/p5191.


Averaged face composites, which represent the central tendency of a familiar population of faces, are attractive. If this prototypicality contributes to their appeal, then averaged composites should be more attractive when their component faces come from a familiar, own-race population than when they come from a less familiar, other-race population. We compared the attractiveness of own-race composites, other-race composites, and mixed-race composites (where the component faces were from both races). In experiment 1, Caucasian participants rated own-race composites as more attractive than other-race composites, but only for male faces. However, mixed-race (Caucasian/Japanese) composites were significantly more attractive than own-race composites, particularly for the opposite sex. In experiment 2, Caucasian and Japanese participants living in Australia and Japan, respectively, selected the most attractive face from a continuum with exaggerated Caucasian characteristics at one end and exaggerated Japanese characteristics at the other, with intervening images including a Caucasian averaged composite, a mixed-race averaged composite, and a Japanese averaged composite. The most attractive face was, again, a mixed-race composite, for both Caucasian and Japanese participants. In experiment 3, Caucasian participants rated individual Eurasian faces as significantly more attractive than either Caucasian or Asian faces. Similar results were obtained with composites. Eurasian faces and composites were also rated as healthier than Caucasian or Asian faces and composites, respectively. These results suggest that signs of health may be more important than prototypicality in making average faces attractive.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Asians
  • Cues*
  • Esthetics*
  • Ethnicity*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Judgment
  • Male
  • Physiognomy*
  • Psychophysics
  • Racial Groups
  • Whites