The Influence of Recent Experience on Perceptions of Attractiveness
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Adults rate average faces as more attractive than most of the faces used in the creation of the average. One explanation for this is that average faces appear as both more familiar and more attractive because they resemble internal face prototypes formed from experience. Here we evaluated that explanation by examining the influence of recent experience on participants' subsequent judgments of attractiveness. Participants first performed a memory task lasting 8 min in which all of the female faces to be remembered had their features placed in a low, average, or high position, depending on experimental condition. In what was described as a separate experiment, participants then moved the features of a female face with averaged features to their most attractive vertical location. The most attractive location was affected by the faces seen during the memory task, with participants who saw faces with features in the high position placing features in higher locations than participants who saw faces with features in either the low or average positions. The results demonstrate that perceptions of attractiveness are influenced by recent experience, and suggest that internal face prototypes are constantly being updated by experience.
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