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February 12, 2007 8:35 PM   Subscribe

What's attractive? Averaged female faces from Hot or Not "These women do not exist.They are a composite of about 30 faces that I created to find out the current standard of good looks on the Internet." also by age and origin
posted by petsounds (103 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
Fascinating. Perhaps it's just because it's tacked on at the end, where it's somewhat out of context, but I find the "average" the most attractive.
posted by aladfar at 8:43 PM on February 12, 2007


I don't look like any of them.
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 8:47 PM on February 12, 2007


I find 7.0-7.4 rather cute. And 6.0-6.4 looks almost exactly like one of the popular girls from my high school, back in the day.

At any rate, fascinating stuff. However, I wonder if the very particular "look" of 9.5-10 is determined not necessarily by what the most beautiful face looks like, but rather just the face of a girl most likely to submit a picture to Hot or Not and then receive a 10, which sets a certain "type" for both the submitter and the rater.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:47 PM on February 12, 2007


More about the concept here.

Interesting how pale the top vote-getter is.
posted by rob511 at 8:48 PM on February 12, 2007


All of the Miss Universe composites look the same, but with different hair.
posted by chundo at 8:51 PM on February 12, 2007


Perfect facial symmetry is for rats and pigeons.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:53 PM on February 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


I also find the so-called "average" faces to be the most attractive. But I expect it is because symmetry grows boring quite quickly, while asymmetry remains intriguing.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:56 PM on February 12, 2007


The Miss Universes all look slightly latina to me... obviously Africa & Asia a little less so.
posted by miss lynnster at 8:56 PM on February 12, 2007


Again, fascinating. Doe-eyed, long hair, slim faces.

Once again, the comments are most entertaining:

Maybe I'm too old already, I find beautiful women them all! Very interesting your job.

lol!
posted by mrgrimm at 8:57 PM on February 12, 2007


This is fascinating, except for the "faces" in question all look like 13-year-old girls.
posted by Brittanie at 9:11 PM on February 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


What, no blondes?
posted by fenriq at 9:12 PM on February 12, 2007


Needs more nose. I likes a woman with a prominent nose.
posted by Iron Rat at 9:16 PM on February 12, 2007


See also.
posted by notmydesk at 9:19 PM on February 12, 2007


Well today's Latino is, generally speaking and to varying degrees, a mix of several ethnicities: southern European, Central and South American Indian, and West African. So it's not surprising that many of these fictional women look Hispanic. The composite images mimic the effect of generations of ethnic intermingling.
posted by oddman at 9:24 PM on February 12, 2007


Lots of eyeliner is the hawtness.
posted by jimmythefish at 9:28 PM on February 12, 2007


I think I look better as a composite photo than I do in any of the constituent photos. Younger, too—averaging eliminates lines and reduces shadows, I suppose.
posted by cortex at 9:33 PM on February 12, 2007


Maybe it's a side effect of the compositing, but whil thre all pleasant enough, they're kind of...bland.No character, no uniqueness. I always understood 'beautiful' as some standard of perfection, but 'cute' as pleasingly odd. Cute is better, I think.
posted by jonmc at 9:40 PM on February 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


I uploaded a hot or not some years ago. I just logged back in. I think, in this sorta pudgy, squinty photo of me I do look most like my ranking counterpart: 4.2. The 35th percentile. Fascinating.

*cue manic dysmorphia and weeping*

I always figured that for having an asymmetrical expression with "character" and submitting a black and white photo I was getting dinged, as well. I bet there's a way to break down factors such as those in voting.

It would be fun to upload the same person, same day, different photos/angles/coloring/makeup combinations to see the scorig differential. Camwhores of the internets, come to my aid!
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 9:41 PM on February 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


Fascinating. Perhaps it's just because it's tacked on at the end, where it's somewhat out of context, but I find the "average" the most attractive.

The more photos averaged, the better the composite will look. I mean in theory.
posted by delmoi at 9:53 PM on February 12, 2007


um, doesn't the very process of compositing ensure that the result will be quite symmetrical?

ie, ensuring that the composite of a score-range is more attractive than most / all individuals within that score range?

(using the theory that there is a strong correlation between facial symmetry & beauty)
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:57 PM on February 12, 2007


Building on what was said up thread, the other thing is that the camera might highlight certain features which aren't as important as ones which we can see, maybe in skin tone, etc. So it might not represent actual conditions.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:01 PM on February 12, 2007


I predict that in a few dozen more generations North Americans will all be one "race", beige-toast-colored Latino-looking ethnic hybrids. Except that for political-correctness reasons we'll all call ourselves Black.
posted by davy at 10:10 PM on February 12, 2007 [2 favorites]


Is there any corresponding info for men? Oddly enough, I've never been attracted to people generally thought of as attractive.
posted by Poagao at 10:40 PM on February 12, 2007


Sure, here's your averaged male face on the right from one of the links someone else posted above.
posted by Listener at 10:43 PM on February 12, 2007


I find 6.5-6.9 the most attractive. With "average" being second.
posted by lastobelus at 10:46 PM on February 12, 2007


Oh-oh, posted too soon. More about the male face.
posted by Listener at 10:47 PM on February 12, 2007


Ambrosia Voyeur, I always found that the pictures that scored the highest on hot or not showed some cleavage, almost every single one...here let me go and look again. Well, some truly beautiful faces make it on their own, but the ones with cleavage definiately score higher.

There are other things you can do, like get a really good portrait photographer to take the photo, favorable lighting (ie. window lighting), angle of the shot, angle of the face to the body, etc.
posted by so_ at 11:19 PM on February 12, 2007


Oddman, Latino =! Hispanic.

But other than that... yeah. With more asian. And cowbell.
posted by rokusan at 11:23 PM on February 12, 2007


so_, yeah I know, it's basically a porn formula. I wonder if the sample faces used in those averages are culled from full-body shots at their rating levels or headshots only.

And please know I'm being 100% flip about my "rating," and the initial posting, at that.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 11:27 PM on February 12, 2007


This is fascinating, except for the "faces" in question all look like 13-year-old girls.

Brittanie: check this out. It explains a lot.

I also recall seeing a study somewhere that suggested that test groups of men (of widely varying ages), upon being shown a series of photos of women of varying ages, pretty consistently picked fairly young ones as the most attractive. We're talking 16 or 17 yrs. old here. Part of the conclusion is that younger age-appearance correlates with fertility, or at least the perception of fertility.
posted by exlotuseater at 11:33 PM on February 12, 2007


Ambrosia Voyeur, I always found that the pictures that scored the highest on hot or not showed some cleavage, almost every single one...here let me go and look again. Well, some truly beautiful faces make it on their own, but the ones with cleavage definiately score higher.

You may be onto something there. Maybe the highest average faces were not the most attractive because the highest rated people weren't the most attractive... they just showed teh boobies.

Personally, my favorites are 6.5-6.9, 7.0-7.4, and the overall average.
posted by mazatec at 11:34 PM on February 12, 2007


Listener: Average Male Face totally comes into my café three times a day. I swear, half of Providence looks exactly like that guy. Oddly, I've never seen any women who match the "average" female face.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 11:38 PM on February 12, 2007


grapefruitmoon, no, she looks like half of Salinas. The Latina assessment is really right on...
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 11:48 PM on February 12, 2007


exlotuseater, you've heard that sociobiology is bullshit?
posted by davy at 11:52 PM on February 12, 2007


And I don't think those female faces look 13; more like 17 or 18 at least and trying to look older. All the damn makeup for one thing.
posted by davy at 11:54 PM on February 12, 2007


Average = Rachel Ray. *shudder*
posted by loquacious at 12:06 AM on February 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


Oh, so in other words, all men are dirty ol' perverts. [NOT SEXIST!]
posted by Brittanie at 12:06 AM on February 13, 2007


I bet they all have really sharp knees. Just sayin...
posted by azpenguin at 12:09 AM on February 13, 2007


davy: I'm not arguing that sociobiology is a correct hypothesis, merely that experiments have shown that men go for younger-looking women. Whether it's sociobiological or socially-constructed, younger = attractive. Sociobiology seems to suggest that it's a completely unconscious connection (i.e. selfish gene blah blah)... when I say "the perception of fertility", I don't rule out that this is a semi-conscious choice based on socially-constructed norms.
posted by exlotuseater at 12:13 AM on February 13, 2007


Brittanie, no, not all men are old perverts, some are still young.
posted by fenriq at 12:16 AM on February 13, 2007 [4 favorites]


Ambrosia Voyeur: There are a lot of Latina women in Providence, but you're right, they're not in my café.

They're in Dunkin' Donuts getting a Coconut Coffee Extra Extra, which isn't a comment on ethnicity, but a comment on the fact that this is Rhode Island and Dunkin' Donuts is GOD.

posted by grapefruitmoon at 12:23 AM on February 13, 2007


I'd hit it.
posted by lostburner at 12:32 AM on February 13, 2007


Grapefruitmoon: out of stupid curiosity, what cafe do you work at? I also work at a cafe in Providence, and I think that average male face comes straight to my shop from yours.
posted by scarylarry at 12:36 AM on February 13, 2007


Seriously, there's a helluva lot of eyeliner going on there. The 'unattractive' composite? Just needs more eyeliner. What a stange message this compositing sends... Even the male composite is somewhat feminine, but without those seductively lined lids, he reads as 'typical guy." What a painfully superficial study this is, although I guess that's the point.
posted by maryh at 12:42 AM on February 13, 2007


There's an very interesting optical effect that happens to me, and a few other people I've pointed it out to, when looking at averaged faces such as the ones from Listener's link above. Despite being an unanimated .jpg, they seem to twist and morph - look at the eyebrow, for instance, and the nose and jawline shifts.

If this is a widespread effect, and I suspect it is, it implies that we can work out a lot about how a person ought to look, given a piece of their face to look at. It seems like a process of seeing a piece, working out the underlying numbers that generate the face, then imagining the rest of the face according to those numbers.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 12:59 AM on February 13, 2007


Perfect facial symmetry is for rats and pigeons.

Sez you. I bet rats and pigeons see far more variability in their numbers than you or I do.
posted by dreamsign at 1:02 AM on February 13, 2007


If this is a widespread effect, and I suspect it is, it implies that we can work out a lot about how a person ought to look, given a piece of their face to look at.

This is a really interesting way to look at faces, aeschenkarnos. But in my experience, the faces I find most compelling are less symetrical, more suprising. These composites tend toward a lulling pleasingness, while really attractive faces (IMHO) contain a discordant note, or even a bit of a shock. This study is devised to exclude that sort of erotic discrepancy between what you'd like to see, and what shakes you into arousal.
posted by maryh at 1:16 AM on February 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


The higher you move on the list, the younger the faces appear. I honestly think 9.5-10 looks about 15. Beauty of youth and all that, but hot or not? Ick.
posted by slimepuppy at 1:23 AM on February 13, 2007


In cultures where strict monogamy in enforced, it may be a good mating strategy for a (non-alpha) male to focus his efforts on a female who is in her teens, so as to monopolize her prime reproductive years (usually age 13-35).
posted by Human Flesh at 1:46 AM on February 13, 2007


The thing is, this is totally missing one important factor about the hot or not site: BREASTS. If a chick is butt ugly but has a serious rack on display, she's much more likely to have a high rating. An interesting project, nonetheless.
posted by antifuse at 1:50 AM on February 13, 2007


As I get older, all the young hotties just look like my daughter's friends. My older brain just yips "kids" despite the sexy.

*sigh* What a cliche I have become, checking out the hot moms in tennis skirts, doomed to go through life as Steve Martin's fictional alien in Roxanne.
posted by dglynn at 2:57 AM on February 13, 2007


Looks to me like the biggest difference between the low-rated and higher-rated is the lower-rated women are visibly chubby. Above 5.0 the cheeks and chin are much slimmer. Given the probable preferences and biases of the average hot-or-not rater, this doesn't seem that surprising.

Above 5.0 it seems like the more off-center and come-hither-esque the gaze is, the higher the rating.
posted by miss tea at 4:56 AM on February 13, 2007


Sour grapes.
posted by four panels at 6:00 AM on February 13, 2007


Um, do I have to worry about some bizarre brain malfunction? Because I can't tell the difference between anyone rated 5.5 or above -- above that it's all hairstyle, not facial structure.

...or at least that's what it looks like to me.
posted by aramaic at 6:03 AM on February 13, 2007


Æsop. (Sixth century B.C.) Fables.
The Harvard Classics. 1909–14.

The Fox and the Grapes

One hot summer’s day a Fox was strolling through an orchard till he came to a bunch of Grapes just ripening on a vine which had been trained over a lofty branch. “Just the things to quench my thirst,” quoth he. Drawing back a few paces, he took a run and a jump, and just missed the bunch. Turning round again with a One, Two, Three, he jumped up, but with no greater success. Again and again he tried after the tempting morsel, but at last had to give it up, and walked away with his nose in the air, saying: “I am sure they are sour.”

“IT IS EASY TO DESPISE WHAT YOU CANNOT GET.”
posted by four panels at 6:03 AM on February 13, 2007 [2 favorites]


Hey, who you calling average? That's my sister!
posted by breezeway at 6:10 AM on February 13, 2007


Yes, four panels, sour grapes, that's all it is. I'm bitter that my girlfriend doesn't look like the under-aged amalgamation of the top-scorers of fucking hotornot.com...
posted by slimepuppy at 6:24 AM on February 13, 2007


For crying out loud, this isn't very scientific if they're going to allow makeup and other cosmetics.
posted by rolypolyman at 6:33 AM on February 13, 2007


They're all looking to the left (YTMD)! How comes, I wonder?
posted by Drexen at 7:22 AM on February 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


Faces!?!?

Who the hell looks at faces for hawtness!?!?

Get real!
posted by nofundy at 7:25 AM on February 13, 2007


For crying out loud, this isn't very scientific if they're going to allow makeup and other cosmetics.

The dude flat out says that it's very unscientific, considering he just pulled a random selection of photos off the site - the site doesn't require specific resolutions, or facial expressions, or poses. That's something that he says made it very hard to morph the faces in the first place. Not to mention the fact that he's pulling his "attractiveness" quotient from HotOrNot, of all places, which is hardly the most scientific site on the net. One person's 7 is another's 5 (or 9, for that matter).
posted by antifuse at 7:28 AM on February 13, 2007


Couple things:

Open mouth, teeth showing = more attractive.

Eyes making direct contact with the camera = more attractive.

You can see these two values progressing as the images increase. Smiling and eye contact (duh) are often the things social psychologists talk about as elements of the earliest phases of the mating dance. The lowest-ranked girl is looking somewhere indeterminate, and her lips are closed in a line. She doesn't look inviting or confident. No surprise that those characteristics caused images with those features to fall to the bottom. Meanwhile, top-rated girl is looking up at you from a slightly bent head, smiling openly. Come hither indeed.

No, this project isn't very scientific, just an interesting stunt. The very idea of averaging for attractiveness is suspect. I realized this profoundly when watching one of those idiotic BBC series about mating and evolutionary psuychology. In one experiment, they took about 30 guys and had them 'design' their ideal female body using a computer image. They could use the mouse to change the proportions of breasts, hips, ass, cheekbones, whatever, and when they were done they saved their creation, which was a representation of their female ideal. These ideals ranged from actually very chubby, with big butt and boobs, to rail-thin. The proportions varied in a lot of surprising ways. No two were alike. Some were realistic, some very rarely found in nature.

Anyway, the experimenters took these and averaged them for use in the next experimental stage. They called their average 'the ideal female body, as defined by averaging these men's selections'. But wait. The 'ideal body' that this average produced was not the ideal of a single man in the room. They had all created a highly individuated ideal, the image that tripped their own circuits as unique people. The average was no one's actual ideal; every man in the room would have chosen his own ideal ahead of the composite. It was as though you asked 30 people what their favorite foods were, and heard back a range of answers such as pizza, gumbo, waffles, ice cream, chili, and apple pie, and then combined all items and pronounced them 'everyone's ideal food'. No thanks.

I think psychology has shown there are some general physical attributes that cause people to be rated 'attractive' more often, but in real life, we seem to behave much more idiosyncratically. We don't really share a single standard for attractiveness, and factors other than facial appearance certainly are at play. So the value of these sorts of experiments as guides to behavior or the mating process is, I feel, severely limited.
posted by Miko at 7:42 AM on February 13, 2007 [5 favorites]


Drexen: That is astonishing and hilarious. Thank you.
posted by The Bellman at 7:49 AM on February 13, 2007


A remarkable result of our research project is that faces which have been rated as highly attractive do not exist in reality. This became particularly obvious when test subjects (independently of their sex!) favoured women with facial shapes of about 14 year old girls. There is no such woman existing in reality! They are artificial products - results of modern computer technology.

Having these results in mind it is also not surprising that a model agency from Munich chose 88% artificial faces (14 out of 16 selected faces) for potentially being interesting as a model for the category “beauty”. Only two natural male faces could keep up with the computer generated ones, within the group of female faces no natural faces have been selected! We also asked test subjects to indicate the most attractive faces found the same pattern: 81% (13 out of 16) of the selected faces had been generated by the computer.

Fascinating. And obvious.

The Beauty Check site has far higher quality renders. I can see how it would fool model scouts.

Some of you are going to be very upset when you read the "Babyfaceness" link.

As for my preference, the 8.5-8.9 wins hands down. And "she" does look rather young. And vaguely Latino. There's a word that means "preference for younger looking girls" that I once learned here on MeFi but at this moment cannot remember. Whatever that term is, I have it in spades, as does I think 99% of males.

This notion of 16 year olds being "children" is fantastically recent. My mother was married at 16. My grandmother and great-grandmother at 14. Yes, this was the rural South, but it was also the LEGAL AGE (14 with parental consent). Many if not most states currently allow 16 year olds to marry, sometimes requiring parental consent. My wife was a quite young looking 21 when we got married.

Now I'm not saying that allowing 14 year olds to get married is necessarily wise... I'm not sure allowing 24 year olds to get married is wise... but I bristle everytime I see people call a man a "pervert" because he finds a 15-20 year old girl attractive. This is something that predates the last 20 year trend of continuing to treat graduating college seniors as children.

If you see a college freshman on the beach wearing a bikini looking like a swimsuit model, finding her attractive if you are over 30 does not automatically make you a "pervert".

*Disclaimer: I am a pervert, but for many other reasons than just finding late teen girls hawt
posted by Ynoxas at 7:55 AM on February 13, 2007


Um, do I have to worry about some bizarre brain malfunction? Because I can't tell the difference between anyone rated 5.5 or above

Ideal beauty may be "in the eye of the beholder", but it's not too hard to find traits that are considered unattractive across cultures. Our mating instincts aren't really keen enough to sniff out people who are exceptionally well adapted. Instead, our attraction algorithms mainly help us filter out prospective mates that have qualities that are likely to be liabilities in a wide range of environments (e.g. those with a high parasite load, high mutation load, poor health, unsuitable age, neurological disorders, etc.).
posted by Human Flesh at 8:03 AM on February 13, 2007


Ambrosia Voyeur is way higher than a 4.5.

Goes to show you how silly Hot or Not really is. but boy, did the founders rake in the cash...
posted by drstein at 8:25 AM on February 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


Odd. I prefer a woman with a bent nose and a lazy eye. It's a turn on.
posted by disgruntled at 8:32 AM on February 13, 2007


It's not the age of the girls themselves, ynoxas, it's the disparity in ages between the girl and the man that's creepy. Admiring from afar is one thing (we all do it) but I think active pursuit of much younger women indicates poor self-awareness in men.
posted by Miko at 8:38 AM on February 13, 2007


high parasite load

Yeah, definitely a turn-off.
posted by Miko at 8:41 AM on February 13, 2007


The thing is, this is totally missing one important factor about the hot or not site: BREASTS.

Though crudely put, I wonder if anyone has done the same sort of image processing for breasts (or even penises). It would be fascinating to see what the "average" pair of boobs looks like, and how they compare to "perfect" as currently defined.
posted by Popular Ethics at 9:53 AM on February 13, 2007


fenriq writes "What, no blondes?"

The averaging probably didn't control for the not even close to random distribution of the source material.
posted by Mitheral at 10:09 AM on February 13, 2007


This seems like a weird venue to talk about this, but recently I took dozens of pictures of my face. I have been looking at them every couple of days and just trying to synthesize my perception of how I look (and my attractiveness or lack thereof) with reality documented by the lens. It's been an interesting experiment. No conclusions gathered yet, but worthwhile.

I don't know where I would fall on the scale of faces. My face is asymmetrical and imperfect. I like some things about it and dislike others. I have a hard time trying to think of myself as pretty or not pretty. I'm just not sure what I am.
posted by loiseau at 11:08 AM on February 13, 2007


They had all created a highly individuated ideal, the image that tripped their own circuits as unique people. The average was no one's actual ideal; every man in the room would have chosen his own ideal ahead of the composite. It was as though you asked 30 people what their favorite foods were, and heard back a range of answers such as pizza, gumbo, waffles, ice cream, chili, and apple pie, and then combined all items and pronounced them 'everyone's ideal food'. No thanks.

I like the argument, Miko, but I'm not sure it works.

In your food analogy, you might have a guy who wants lamb chops and ends up with headcheese.

A guy who prefers a woman with slightly rounded hips, or a slightly bigger nose, or slightly bee-stung lips, when confronted with a woman with merely a slightly different proportion of the same, isn't going to react like he's been presented with something antithetical to his preference. It's close. It's a quantitative difference. B-cup breasts instead of C. I don't know a single man who, when a feature gets to a point just so gets his "circuits tripped" in the way you describe and yet doesn't when that feature is nearly of the same proportion.

As for "admiration" of the young versus active pursuit, I don't think it would quite draw the animosity it does if that were the the whole story. If anything, a bemused shaking of the head would seem to be appropriate.
posted by dreamsign at 11:46 AM on February 13, 2007


Here's something from a few years back when researchers took photos of several dozen women over the course of the month and made composites of all of them while they were ovulating and while they were on their period. There is a noticeable difference in the attractiveness of the women between one and the other.

There have also been other studies that claim a similar effect in a woman's behavior (sexy dress, being flirty, likelyhood to have sex or cheat on a partner) that was related to ovulation cycles.

Since having seen this I have become convinced that I can tell the difference in women that I know well or see every day.

This and what Human Flesh mentions about attractiveness having many health related factors is talked about at length in The Red Queen: Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature by Matt Ridley It's an interesting read despite being a science book, but I recommend it for people interested in evolutionary sociology or sociobiology or whatnot.

That and the two chapters on 'monogamy and the nature of women' and 'polygamy and the nature of man' go a long way to explain much of the war of the sexes.
posted by daHIFI at 12:09 PM on February 13, 2007


Whoops.. fired off the post without linking this:

Hormone levels predict attractiveness of women
posted by daHIFI at 12:10 PM on February 13, 2007


Some of you are going to be very upset when you read the "Babyfaceness" link.

Why? When I picked the face that appealed to me, it was the 20%babyface one. But then I'm not a guy, and the young ones do look like kids to me. When I used to teach adults, and there were some teens in the class, the ones I had to treat differently and censor topics for, that's what they looked like. And nothing that looks like a kid appeals to me in any way.
posted by Listener at 1:22 PM on February 13, 2007


dreamsign: you're right, my food analogy wasn't perfect, but it works well enough to describe the instance I'm speaking of. For most of the men, the woman who ended up as the average was quite far from their stated ideal - so generic as to retain very little of the original features each had created. They didn't just look a little bit different in something small like a few inches plus or minus on the hips, but an entirely different kind of woman. My point is that beyond some very basic universals, there's no accounting for taste. If that were not so, then the average rated #10 would necessarily show you the most possible attractive woman for every man on the planet. There is no single standard for attractiveness.


That and the two chapters on 'monogamy and the nature of women' and 'polygamy and the nature of man' go a long way to explain much of the war of the sexes.


They can also be seen as going a long way to justify behavior learned during centuries of patriarchy -- behavior which we'd rather not change, and now can argue that we just can't help.

Not everyone accepts all the extrapolated theories of evolutionary psychology, particularly pop evolutionary psychology, as good science. It posits that physiology and psychology have evolved in the same ways, through natural selection. I am not one of those who believes that all human behavior (backgammon? biathlon? The shaggy-dog story?) arises from the process of natural selection. Even if it did, study design which reasons backward from conclusions ("People sure do like to sleep around") to evidence from single time periods in certain selected cultures ("...because Paleolithic people were serially monogamous") does not inspire deep confidence in its results.

But once you start down this road, it's no fun at all. So I'll just say that that 'average' male face is not at all hot to me (wouldn't look twice) and keep an eye out for the smart, strange, quirky guys with the twinkly eyes that I tend to like.
posted by Miko at 1:46 PM on February 13, 2007


Some of you are going to be very upset when you read the "Babyfaceness" link.

Not here. Actually, that site has been linked on MeFi before - thanks for the reminder, coz I had lost the bookmark & wanted to link it earlier in the comments.

Since I first read that babyfacedness bit, it flicks a switch of recognition every time I see an example in real life or popular culture. Kate Moss, Christina Ricci, there are plenty of them. Interestingly, extreme babyfacedness seems to be a bit of a category of its own, somehow quite distanced from the more 'typical' ideals of beauty
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:44 PM on February 13, 2007


An afterthought on babyfacedness: I had an ex who combined distinct babyfacedness with similarly distinct full-chestedness. I was amused that the combination of these factors was pushing very different hardwired buttons, but I didn't waste all that much effort intellectualising the situation.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:54 PM on February 13, 2007


The only obvious thing I noticed was that the lower the rating, the fatter the face. That's about it.

The differences between the various sections of the scales, even parts that were supposed to be close to each other, leads me to believe that their technique in "averaging" faces was off. Probably because in order to morph faces together, they have to be facing the same direction and be the same relative size. If they were just comparing distances of features and averaging the results, then mea culpa. But the differences between scaler groups that are right next to each other should be far less dramatic were that the case.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:38 PM on February 13, 2007


The thing is, this is totally missing one important factor about the hot or not site: BREASTS. If a chick is butt ugly but has a serious rack on display, she's much more likely to have a high rating.

*knocks on monitor* Hello? Is this Metafilter? Or have I stumbled onto fratboy.com by mistake? Between this and the dating thread it seems the doofusness is running high around here today. Is it Valentine's Day? What?
posted by jokeefe at 7:40 AM on February 14, 2007


You're absolutely right, jokeefe. I've been more vocal and more annoying in these threads lately because the whiff of boyzone ozone has been quite strong recently. Maybe it is Valentine's Day fallout.
posted by Miko at 8:25 AM on February 14, 2007


It was also riffing pretty directly off the atmosphere of Hot or Not, though. I wouldn't eye antifuse so meanly in context.
posted by cortex at 8:41 AM on February 14, 2007


It was also riffing pretty directly off the atmosphere of Hot or Not, though. I wouldn't eye antifuse so meanly in context.

Erm, okay, whatever. My point is that Metafilter is what used to be called 'mixed company'. Would you (not "you" per se, but "you" in general) say, for example, "if a chick is butt ugly but has a serious rack on display, she's much more likely to have a high rating" in a room where women are present? Or would you think twice about how it might sound? Also, antifuse's comment was just the first example that came to hand, not the most bothersome.

And thanks, Miko, I'm glad it's not just me.
posted by jokeefe at 9:50 AM on February 14, 2007


Would you (not "you" per se, but "you" in general) say, for example, "if a chick is butt ugly but has a serious rack on display, she's much more likely to have a high rating" in a room where women are present? Or would you think twice about how it might sound?

I understand your point, jokeefe. I'm not dismissing the boyzone thing, just suggesting that it's not pure fratboy farkism in here—the context explains some of it.

To your question: I would think twice about how it might sound, depending on the women (and men) in the room and the nature of the conversation. If I was hanging around with my friends, joking about hot-or-not type stuff? Not a second thought. With my aunt? Some reservation. Company dinner? I'd hold off.

I certainly wouldn't refrain absolutely from saying something like that just because there were females in earshot; but I'd be unlikely to say something like that completely out of context, so, hey.
posted by cortex at 10:03 AM on February 14, 2007


cortex, yes, the subject matter tends to attract such comments. True enough.

But I can't let it go without another small rant comment on "evolutionary psychology", which holds a firm place on my top ten list of intellectual follies. If woman are so naturally monogamous, then can't help but wonder why every culture in human history has had elaborate social mechanisms in place to control and confine female sexual desire and activity (what we often call "marriage").
posted by jokeefe at 11:09 AM on February 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


As the thread's resident easy-going yet hardass feminist, I took the comment as tongue-in-cheek, or even as self-deprecating. Not a major infraction.

And anyway, stems and cabooses are where it's at.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 11:47 AM on February 14, 2007


And anyway, stems and cabooses are where it's at.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 1:47 PM CST on February 14


Ok, now you're hot.

You know why I love you Ambrosia? It's not just the rack or the caboose, it's that big sexy brain of yours. [/familyguy]
posted by Ynoxas at 4:59 PM on February 14, 2007


The thing is, this is totally missing one important factor about the hot or not site: BREASTS. If a chick is butt ugly but has a serious rack on display, she's much more likely to have a high rating.

You mean like these chicks? [slightly NSFW, if you work for / with idiots]

Although it is unfortunately phrased, that comment rings true for hotornot-type sites, insofar as I have seen. A photo's score tends to be proportional to the amount of exposed flesh, especially cleavage. It is not always directly proportional to the attractiveness of the face.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:18 PM on February 14, 2007


Well, damn, I really didn't think I'd be up writing a post defending evolutionary psych at this hour (or, honestly, ever), but come on!

Miko: Not everyone accepts all the extrapolated theories of evolutionary psychology, particularly pop evolutionary psychology, as good science. It posits that physiology and psychology have evolved in the same ways, through natural selection. I am not one of those who believes that all human behavior (backgammon? biathlon? The shaggy-dog story?) arises from the process of natural selection.

Saying that ev psych proponents claim that "all human behavior" arises directly from natural selection is, frankly, ridiculous. No evolutionary psychologist makes this claim, because it is stupid. Instead, evolutionary psychologists argue that SOME human behavior is INFLUENCED by natural selection. This is totally uncontroversial among scientists studying human behavior, and the very article you link to takes this position! The debate is about what "some" and "influenced" mean (i.e. which behaviors, and how natural selection affected them).

jokeefe: If woman are so naturally monogamous...

That is the exact opposite of what evolutionary psychology claims. Please, at least know the position you're criticizing.
posted by myeviltwin at 7:41 PM on February 14, 2007


jokeefe: then can't help but wonder why every culture in human history has had elaborate social mechanisms in place to control and confine female sexual desire and activity

Because however women may actually act (evolutionary pressure or no), men have historically thought that they would act in the manner that the men in question would act, given the chance?
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 8:05 PM on February 14, 2007


jokeefe: then can't help but wonder why every culture in human history has had elaborate social mechanisms in place to control and confine female sexual desire and activity

That one's a no-brainer, jokeefe. Women *always* know that their child is their child. Historically, men have had no way of knowing the paternity of kids, without restricting female sexuality, and even now, I am not sure if DNA proves paternity 100%.

If property, political or spiritual power etc are hereditary in a culture (pretty much always), then paternity becomes a big big big issue, since these things have almost always passed from father to eldest surviving son. That, in itself, is sexist, but is a topic for a different (if related) thread, I think.
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:39 PM on February 14, 2007 [2 favorites]


scarylarry: I dunno if you're still in the thread, my wireless was down all day yesterday, so I'm a bit behind on the internerds. Anyhoo, I work in Seattle's Best.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 9:41 PM on February 14, 2007


jokeefe: then can't help but wonder why every culture in human history has had elaborate social mechanisms in place to control and confine female sexual desire and activity

That one's a no-brainer, jokeefe. Women *always* know that their child is their child. Historically, men have had no way of knowing the paternity of kids, without restricting female sexuality, and even now, I am not sure if DNA proves paternity 100%.

If property, political or spiritual power etc are hereditary in a culture (pretty much always), then paternity becomes a big big big issue, since these things have almost always passed from father to eldest surviving son. That, in itself, is sexist, but is a topic for a different (if related) thread, I think.


That is indeed a no-brainer, culturally. But what you're describing are the cultural conditions for restricting female sexual activity (inheritence, anxiety over paternity), but not the motivation for such social structures, which is the fear of female sexual autonomy. In other words, the anxiety that women will engage in sexual contact with a variety of men. If women didn't have a propensity to do so, to find other fathers for their offspring, then why bother with such an elaborate system of rules for protecting paternity? The answer is that women do tend to engage in wide sexual activit, often on the quiet. (So do chimpanzees, btw, for what it's worth.) Which is why I question the current received wisdom that women are "biologically wired" to be monogamous. Which you find everywhere, from Dan Savage right to high school textbooks which teach a kind of nuclear family model that has never really reflected the reality of hunter/gatherer societies, where we as human beings evolved over many thousands of years.

jokeefe: If woman are so naturally monogamous...

That is the exact opposite of what evolutionary psychology claims. Please, at least know the position you're criticizing.


myeviltwin, I was responding to this comment. Are you seriously going to argue that this idea (men are "naturally" polygamous, women "monogamous") is not one of the standard positions of evolutionary psychology, as it is in the book referred to in the link?
posted by jokeefe at 12:09 PM on February 15, 2007


A healthy man can yield more offspring by having sex with dozens of women. A woman cannot scale her reproductive capacity in quite the same way. If this concept is new to you, you don't know much about evolutionary psychology.
posted by Human Flesh at 12:43 PM on February 15, 2007


jokeefe: Yes! Quoting directly from that book (pp. 212):

"Although men are fickle...they are also interested in finding wives with whom to rear families and might well be very set on sticking by them despite their own infidelity."

Women are "less interested in polygamy than men, but that does not mean they are not sexual opportunists. The eager male/coy female theory has a great deal of difficulty answering a simple question: Why are women ever unfaithful?"

All of the (often criticized) ev. psych theories about male jealousy are premised on the idea that women are NOT monogamous.
posted by myeviltwin at 12:48 PM on February 15, 2007


A Female would risk squandering her ova if she were to engage in a lifelong monogamous relationship with a male who produced infertile or otherwise sub-par haploid cells. This provides a reproductive incentive for females to engage in extra-pair mating behaviors -- particularly during ovulation.
posted by Human Flesh at 1:16 PM on February 15, 2007


Someone once asked me why Mossy is so damn fine. My answer was that since the incredible photo shoot that launched her career, she has aged very little. Even though I know she is a prima donna hell-raiser narcissist, some of that girlish innocence is still physically present when I see her image.

On the subject of butt ugly racketeers, such an observation might not be apposite in general conversation, however were the conversation about the compositing of images from hotornot where it can be demonstrated that the amount of bosom on display effects the scoring for an otherwise average looking lady, I think it quite appropriate. Indeed, reading the thread from start to finish one finds the same observation here, although phrased differently.
posted by asok at 3:53 PM on February 15, 2007


jokeefe: right you are. i was responding to the quote, and had missed your "if women are naturally monogamous" lead-in. i think we are in agreement here.

to paraphrase, *because* women are not naturally monogamous, they will sleep around, therefore men, concerned over paternity & fearing the passing of monopolised goodies to a bastard son of an adulterous asswipe, try to ensure legitimate paternity by locking up their wives & daughters.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:31 PM on February 15, 2007


slightly off-topic, but this idea broke my brain in two recently, so i thought i might share it...

i was reading about theories regarding the very early 'birth' of mankind, eg the beginnings of language, abstract thought, etc, and the author pointed out that early man would not have had the reasoning ability to make the connection between sex & pregnancy. sex was just something that you did, and eveybody else just did, and you were all doing it all the time, and from time to time females would inexplicably balloon outwards & pop out miniature new humans. without knowing that the male had any part in this, it would have seemed just the most amazing thing around.

this may go a long way towards explaining early 'goddess'-worship, as in the willendorf venus et al. it was only when the male role in reproduction was understood that male gods appeared & claimed some of the godly glory.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:52 PM on February 15, 2007


Women are "less interested in polygamy than men, but that does not mean they are not sexual opportunists.

it's just that (drunken college behaviour aside) most are probably more interested in polyandry than polygamy.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:10 PM on February 15, 2007


The idea of males being evolutionary inclined to spread their seed with the maximum number of partners while females are evolutionarily inclined to be monogamous and have limited numbers of sexual partners is complete hogwash. This nonsense was first promoted by A.J. Bateman in a 1948 paper on Drosphila melanogaster. From his studies with this species he observed that males have more children if they mate with many partners while the females do not. He used this knowledge to theorize the misguided saying "eggs are expensive and sperm is cheap therefore males have an advantage to whore around but females do not." There were two huge things wrong with his experiments however. First of all, the behavior exhibited in Drosphila melanogaster is atypical of other species of Drosphila. Drosphila hydei females love to whore around. What's more, he observed the Drosphila melanogaster females for only a short period of time. If he had watched them for over one week he would have been able to realize that those females who mate only once produce fewer offspring than those females who mate many times.

The advantage of mating many times has been proven in many species since the advancement of genetic testing. Birds were thought to be most monogamous but genetic testing revealed that while females tend to be socially monogamous (have one official husband) they tend to be genetically non-monogamous (30% of eggs tested were being reared by a male bird who was not the father). That behavior extends to primates.

Multiple matings have many evolutionary advantages for females. In species that live in social groups (like with chimps) females will have multiple sex partners to avoid infanticide. There is also the problem of finding a good genetic and social mate. Female lizards and birds will often mate with the stud and then "marry" the nice-guy. Because male birds will not knowingly raise another male's eggs, the female birds have to be very cautious to not let their "husbands" find out what they have been up to. In many species, multiple matings produce more offspring due to increased genetic variety.

It's not that evolutionary biology/psychology is wrong, it's just that some of the people influential in it promote wrong ideas.
posted by avagoyle at 4:33 PM on February 18, 2007


while females tend to be socially monogamous (have one official husband) they tend to be genetically non-monogamous (30% of eggs tested were being reared by a male bird who was not the father). That behavior extends to primates.

Sure does. It might have been in Kinsey, or some other study around about that same time, that based on blood-type analysis, some whopping proportion of kids in America (I think it was around 30% or more) could not possibly have been fathered by the man they thought was their dad.
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:19 PM on February 18, 2007


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