So you think beauty is in the eye of the
beholder? Think again. According to new research from the University of
Exeter in Great Britain, the preference for pretty faces over ugly ones
is embedded in our brains from the moment of birth and possibly prior
Newborn babies come fully equipped with built-in preferences, including
a preference for an attractive face, that help them make sense of their
new environment, report the BBC News Online and Newsweek magazine.
Exeter researchers showed more than 100 infants two images that were
placed side by side. One was of an attractive face, while the other was
a less attractive face. The babies, ranging in age from five hours old
to two days old, spent about 80 percent of the time looking at the
attractive face, while barely glancing at the unattractive face.
"You can show them pair after pair of faces that are matched for
everything other than attractiveness. This leads to the conclusion that
babies are born with a very detailed representation of the human face,"
Dr. Alan Slater, a psychologist at Exeter, explained to the BBC News.
Why would infants have this capability? "It helps them to recognize
familiar faces--particularly that of the mother--and it helps them in
learning about the social world.
Attractiveness is not simply in the
eye of the beholder, it is in the brain of the newborn infant right
from the moment of birth and possibly prior to birth," he added.
When those babies grow up, the preference for pretty faces doesn't
change. And it crosses all cultures and geography as well. When an
insular European is shown the faces of two Africans, the one he chooses
as most attractive is also the same one an African chooses. And it
works the other way around when an African is shown the faces of two
"Although we think that standards of facial beauty vary over time and
culture, they don't actually change that much," Slater explained to
Newsweek. The evidence indicates that there is a biological and
So don't blame a man when he can't help but look at a pretty face! He's
biologically programmed that way.