Is beauty in the eye of the beholder?

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Johnston, V.S., Franklin, M. (1993). Is beauty in the eye of the beholder? Ethology and Sociobiology, 14: 183–199.



Theories of beauty were evaluated by requiring subjects to “evolve” a beautiful female face using a Genetic Algorithm. In this procedure, a computer program generated a small population of faces (first generation of phenotypes) from a set of random binary strings (genotypes). Genotypes specified the shapes and soft tissue anthropometrics of facial features. Each of the first generation of faces was rated by a subject (relative fitness measure) for beauty. The fittest genotypes then bred in proportion to their fitness, with crossover and mutation of the binary strings, to produce offspring which were again rated by the subject. This process continued until the most beautiful face, for that subject, was evolved. Forty Caucasian subjects (20 M, 20 F) were required to evolve their idealized beautiful female face using this procedure. The features and soft tissue anthropometrics of their final composites were compared to population norms. Also, the final composites, and different faces generated from the same data base, were rated for beauty by independent judges. The results support the conclusion that the concept of facial beauty is the result of sexual selection, and a beautiful female face has features and proportions indicative on high fertility.

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