Does one’s physical attractiveness have a positive or negative impact in life? Does it give you an advantage when it comes to finding a mate, getting good grades in school, getting a job, or being more successful in life? Is beauty in the eye of the beholder? What does the research tell us? And while most of us would prefer a world where you are not judged solely by your appearance, should we admit the reality that that’s the way things are.
Is There a Definitive View of Beauty?
The dictionary defines beauty as“the quality or aggregate of qualities in a person or thing that gives pleasure to the senses or pleasurably exalts the mind or spirit.”
Most studies of the brain activations associated with the perception of attractiveness show photographs of faces to their participants and let them or a comparable group of people rate the attractiveness of these faces. Such studies consistently find that activity in certain parts of the orbitofrontal cortex increases with the increasing attractiveness of faces. This neural response has been interpreted as a reaction to the rewarding nature of attractiveness, as similar increases in activation in the medial orbitofrontal cortex can be seen in response to smiling faces and to statements of morally good actions. While most of these studies have not assessed participants of both genders or homosexual individuals, evidence from one study including male and female hetero- and homosexual individuals indicate that some of the aforementioned increases in brain activity are restricted to images of faces of the gender participants feel sexually attracted to.