Facial attractiveness: evolutionary based research

Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2011 Jun 12;366(1571):1638-59. doi: 10.1098/rstb.2010.0404.


Face preferences affect a diverse range of critical social outcomes, from mate choices and decisions about platonic relationships to hiring decisions and decisions about social exchange. Firstly, we review the facial characteristics that influence attractiveness judgements of faces (e.g. symmetry, sexually dimorphic shape cues, averageness, skin colour/texture and cues to personality) and then review several important sources of individual differences in face preferences (e.g. hormone levels and fertility, own attractiveness and personality, visual experience, familiarity and imprinting, social learning). The research relating to these issues highlights flexible, sophisticated systems that support and promote adaptive responses to faces that appear to function to maximize the benefits of both our mate choices and more general decisions about other types of social partners.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Beauty*
  • Biological Evolution*
  • Choice Behavior*
  • Face*
  • Female
  • Femininity
  • Fertility
  • Health Status Indicators
  • Hormones
  • Humans
  • Learning
  • Male
  • Masculinity
  • Personality
  • Photography
  • Sex Factors
  • Skin Aging
  • Skin Pigmentation
  • Social Desirability
  • Visual Perception


  • Hormones