Table of contents:

How the brain determines what is beautiful and what is not
How the brain determines what is beautiful and what is not

Usually they tried to answer this question with the help of logic. But in recent decades, scientists have begun to view beauty in terms of evolutionary psychology and neuroscience.

How the brain determines what is beautiful and what is not
How the brain determines what is beautiful and what is not

Parameters that influence our perception of beauty

Although the concept of beauty is very subjective, several basic parameters affect whether someone's face appears beautiful to us or not: averaging, symmetry, and hormonal influence. Let's consider each of them in more detail.

  • Averaging … The averaged faces display the main features of the group. And people of mixed races are considered more attractive because they have greater genetic diversity and adaptability to the environment.
  • Symmetry … We find symmetrical faces more attractive than asymmetric ones. Asymmetry is commonly associated with developmental abnormalities. In addition, in plants, animals and humans, it can occur due to parasitic infections. Symmetry in this case serves as an indicator of health.
  • Hormones … Estrogen and testosterone significantly influence the formation of facial features that we find attractive. Although the preference for specific physical characteristics for each may be arbitrary, if these traits are inherited and associated with reproductive advantage, over time they become common to the entire group.

What areas of the brain are involved in this

What happens in the brain when we see a beautiful person? Attractive faces activate an area of the visual cortex at the back of the brain - the fusiform gyrus, which is responsible for facial recognition, and the centers responsible for reward and pleasure. The visual cortex interacts with the pleasure centers, thus reinforcing our perception of beauty.

In addition, the stereotype “beautiful is good” is firmly entrenched in our minds. Neuronal activity in response to beauty and kindness often overlaps. This happens even when people do not consciously think about these qualities. This reflex connection serves as a biological trigger for many social beauty effects. For example, attractive people are considered smarter, more reliable, paid more, and punished less.

Conversely, people with minor facial anomalies and injuries are considered less kind, less intelligent, less hardworking. This is reinforced by the fact that villains are often portrayed with disfigured faces.

By understanding the nature of these hidden biases, we can overcome them and create a society where people are judged by their actions, not by their appearance.

The universal characteristics of beauty were formed two million years ago during the Pleistocene epoch. The criteria of reproductive success that were relevant then are not so important today. With the development of medicine, the advent of antibiotics, contraceptives and artificial insemination, these symptoms have become less severe. Therefore, the definition of beauty must become more free and changeable.

Popular by topic