What makes a man or a woman attractive? We all have our individual preferences, but research has found a trend. A study published in Psychological Science found that there’s more to “masculinity” in men and “femininity” in women that makes them attractive to the opposite gender.
Researchers created a computer program that analyzed thousands of male and female faces and the ratings they received from various opposite-gender volunteers. They looked at 50 different dimensions of attractiveness and divided them into two categories – “shape” (e.g. plumpness of lips) and “reflectance” (e.g. lightness or darkness of face). The program learned to associate each facial dimension with attractiveness and found that men typically like female faces to be feminine in shape and reflectance while women typically like male faces to be masculine in reflectance but feminine in shape.
The study’s findings provide new insight on what makes a face attractive–but the researchers stress an important limitation. The program used faces in an artificial manner in theoretical space, which isn’t the same as a real and live face.