Royal Society Publishing

Evidence against perceptual bias views for symmetry preferences in human faces

Anthony C. Little, Benedict C. Jones

Abstract

Symmetrical human faces are attractive. Two explanations have been proposed to account for symmetry preferences: (i) the evolutionary advantage view, which posits that symmetry advertises mate quality and (ii) the perceptual bias view, which posits that symmetry preferences are a consequence of greater ease of processing symmetrical images in the visual system. Here, we show that symmetry preferences are greater when face images are upright than when inverted. This is evidence against a simple perceptual bias view, which suggests symmetry preference should be constant across orientation about a vertical axis. We also show that symmetry is preferred even in familiar faces, a finding that is unexpected by perceptual bias views positing that symmetry is only attractive because it represents a familiar prototype of that particular class of stimuli.

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