All species rely to some degree on an ability to interpret facial expressions and features for survival. The expression of health on a face serves as an important biological cue. This literature review examines the relationship between facial attractiveness and physical health in humans and other species. Previous research has not conclusively determined the extent that human facial attractiveness has as an indicator of actual physical health. Across cultures facial attractiveness is generally judged by symmetry, youthfulness, and averageness. People whose faces are judged as being more attractive are perceived as being healthier than people with unattractive faces. The basis of this phenomenon lies in evolutionary theory, which hypothesizes that attractive phenotypes expressed in facial features reflect genotypes that are representative of good health. For humans, this research has implications for not only understanding evolution and health, but also for understanding mate preference, social advantages, and bias in medical treatment of unattractive individuals. To tease apart the concept of perceived and actual health, more research is needed. Further research will benefit from improvements in measuring reported physical health, as well as understanding the motives of participants' ratings of attractiveness.
Conference Proceedings: Undergraduate Social Science Research Conference
©2003 by the University of Northern Iowa
University of Northern Iowa
Cedar Falls, IA
"Linking Facial Attractiveness and Physical Health: A Review of Literature,"
Conference Proceedings: Undergraduate Social Science Research Conference: Vol. 7:
1, Article 36.
Available at: https://scholarworks.uni.edu/csbsproceedings/vol7/iss1/36