"Beauty is in the brain of the beholder: A neurophysiological test of the cognitive averaging theory of facial attractiveness"
Fri, February 15, 2013 • 3:00 PM - 4:00 PM • SEA 1.332 (Hakes Library)
Logan T. Trujillo, Ph.D.
Department of Psychology
University of Texas at Austin
It is well established that humans of all ages judge and behave toward others differently based on facial attractiveness. But what is an attractive face and why is it preferred? Cognitive averaging theory claims that faces are perceived as attractive when their facial configuration approximates the configuration of a facial prototype, a cognitive categorical central tendency formed from experience with multiple face exemplars during development; faces that deviate from the prototypical configuration are perceived as unattractive. These preferences arise because, in general, prototypical stimuli are neurocognitively processed more fluently than other stimuli, with such “ease of processing” eliciting positive affective responses that render prototypical stimuli visually “pleasing”. In this talk, I will present an event-related potential (ERP) study suggesting that both attractive and prototypical faces are indeed processed more fluently than unattractive faces in a manner consistent with the degree of emotional arousal predicted for each face type.