Beauty in humans and animals refers to aesthetic appearance which is an aspect of looks. Beauty is often sexually attractive to the opposite sex and it is important for social status in humans. Incels tend to be ugly. Some believe beauty and ugliness are subjective, but beauty is mostly objective, especially for very ugly people and very beautiful people. Physical attractiveness strongly predicts initial romantic interest and moderately based on others' ratings, to the same degree in men and women.
A single glance of 100 milliseconds is sufficient to form reliable, consensual first impressions about physical attractiveness. Beauty is misperceived to be strongly related to various positive traits such as intelligence and health, which is called the beauty-is-good stereotype, a certain kind of halo effect.
Objective vs subjective[edit | edit source]
One can distinguish two kinds of beauty:
Objective beauty: Objective preferences are not acquired by experience, but consist of inherited circuits in the brain. To determine beauty, the brain compares percepts to hardwired patterns or analyzes the mathematical or geometric beauty of percepts, such as symmetry, smoothness, elegance, or generally simplicity. The brain appears to prefer simplicity because it is easy to process, which appears to be common to many higher animals (processing fluency theory of aesthetic pleasure).
Evidence for hardwired patterns is for example that even blind men prefer women's hourglass shaped body. This comes into play in preferences for sexually dimorphic beauty or secondary sex characteristics, which often involve seemingly arbitrary, exaggerated and specific features (few millimeters of bone), such as large and firm female breasts or large penises, nose shapes (e.g. nostril show in women), a robust mandible, protruding cheekbones, compact midface and hunter eyes in men, as well as dimples on back or cheeks, muscle tone, cleavage, thigh gap, abs crack, six pack (see also Category:Aesthetics), and also complex coloration patterns and ornament in some higher animals.
- Subjective beauty: Subjective preferences for beauty are acquired by individual emotional experience or mere exposure, or result from variance in development of the inherited neuronal circuitry for detecting objective beauty as described above.
Evolution of beauty[edit | edit source]
Animal's preference for objective beauty as mathematical simplicity is a fluke of evolution, resulting from the actually useful preference for order and predictability (processing fluency). Due to this preference, animals tended to choose mathematically beautiful mates and hence species evolved to be beautiful (aesthetic sexual selection) and beauty became an important factor of sexual attraction. Some deep sea fish may be particularly ugly due to being blind.
Simple and elegant body shapes can, however, also result from optimizing resource efficiency or resilience. This explains why even blind animals and plants are often beautiful. Though, some flowers may have also evolved beauty and scents to be particularly salient to insects which spread their pollen. And also in many animals, beauty has the same function of conspicuously advertising oneself for the opposite sex. For this reason human females can use flowers as adornment to attract males since flowers just happen to fulfill the same function. Attraction to secondary sexual characteristics also increases fitness because seeking out the opposite sex is conductive for reproduction.
Feedback loops in sexual selection such as Fisherian runaway and sensory bias can explain why secondary sexual characteristics are overcomplicated and enlarged in some animals, and they can also explain the immense sexual attraction to very specific shapes (few millimeters of bone) despite them having barely any relevance for survival except "social survival". Feedback loops can also explain phenomena like women readily copulating with sexy men despite being coy otherwise, as well as love on first sight, oneitis, uncanny valley and disgust of other races (which often seems to drive racism).
Another explanation of beauty is that it acts as an honest signal of e.g. health, mutational load and intelligence, can thus signal good genes overall. These two opposing views the Good Geners vs Fisherians lead to significant academic rivalry since the 1990s, but the good genes hypotheses has largely been refuted since. The relation between beauty to health and ability is only relevant for certain cases like disfigurement, certain syndromes and skin rashes and the like. Beauty and health are only weakly related when disregarding these extremes, but slight fitness advantages could have also initiated feedback loops in sexual selection.
Sexual dimorphism exists in all races, but it is highest in Europeans, Native Northern Canadians, Native Greenlanders, and Native Alaskans and lowest in Africans, South-east Asians, Indians, and Middle Easterns. Men native to more cold and harsher environments are more masculine looking. Conversely, women native to more tropical and fruitful environments are more masculine looking. Low sexual dimorphism is thought to be caused by a live fast/die young ecology (fast life history, r-selection, easy but unpredictable environment, far from maximal carrying capacity, favors non-cooperation within species), favoring less committing men with a quicker succession of sexual partners and hence women with masculine abilities such as physical strength for protecting the offspring. High dimorphism, in contrast, comes from a live slow/die old ecology (slow life history, K-selection, harsh but predictable environment, close to maxmal carrying capacity, favors cooperation within species, more time for specialization, more ecological niches), favoring men who spend their teen years acquiring resources instead of reproducing, to take on one wife only in their twenties, thus the woman is always being provided for allowing them to specialize on childcare and extracting resources from men.
For unknown reasons, South East Asian males are less masculine looking than Caucasian men. This may in part explain the effectiveness of SEAmaxxing, as Caucasians tallmog and beardmog the relatively feminine looking South East Asian males. Another explanation for the effectiveness of SEAmaxxing is hypergamy with SEA females associating Caucasians with high socioeconomic standing.
Historically, parents have been heavily involved in their offspring's mate choices, so quite likely feedback loops in sexual aesthetic selection have also shaped parents to be choosy about looks (sexy grandchildren), and, due to the similarity of socializing with potential partners for their offspring with socializing in general, people have evolved to be choosy about looks of the people they socialize with, explaining why looks influence men's social status somewhat.
Beautiful behavior[edit | edit source]
Not just looks, but also behavior can be beautiful and sexually attractive, such as facial expressiveness, physiognomy, tone and clarity of the voice, or more generally charisma. Analogously to objective beauty described above, beautiful behavior has elegance, confidence, poise and wit, i.e. it can be processed fluently. The opposite is awkwardness, lethargy, stuttering, violation of norms, autism, inappropriate laughter, delayed response, anxiety etc. Aesthetic sexual selection very plausibly played a role in the evolution of these behaviors, especially as they lack obvious survival value. E.g. in some birds, fish and other species one can observe animals (especially male ones) competing in performance of complex behaviors (courtship display), which ranges from courtship dances to construction of aesthetically pleasing nest formations. In the same manner, higher human cognition has been suggested to have largely evolved by sexual selection as a "cognitive ornament".
Male dancers of the Wodaabe African tribe (see video) are a clear example of men showing off sexual adaptations for facial expressiveness, fine control of facial muscles, glances, smiling, sense of style and adornment, as well as the white of the eye (sclera), straight white teeth, all of which are plausibly sexual/aesthetic adaptations. Wodaabes believe men who are not physically beautiful can make up for it with togu (game) and flirting with poetic speech patterns called sweet tongue, i.e. beautiful behavior. Such courtship performances have striking resemblance with modern day jestermaxxing and tindermaxxing. People on the autism spectrum often lack fine control of their facial muscles or body overall. Dance performances with rhythmic and rocking motions, delicate hand movements, and overall elegance, poise and coolness are seen in many indigenous cultures, so these behaviors are generally potential candidates for being primarily sexual adaptations as they evidently played an important role in mate selection for both men and women, as can be seen by women also being involved in dances, instead of just watching the males dance.
Beauty Gallery[edit | edit source]
See also[edit | edit source]
- Fisherian runaway
- Looks theory
- Halo effect
- Looksmaxxing and Category:Aesthetics for various aspects of human aesthetics
References[edit | edit source]
- Fuller, R. C., Houle, D., & Travis, J. 2005. Sensory Bias as an Explanation for the Evolution of Mate Preferences. [Abstract]
- Matsuura K. 2014. A new pufferfish of the genus Torquigener that builds "mystery circles" on sandy bottoms in the Ryukyu Islands, Japan (Actinopterygii: Tetraodontiformes: Tetraodontidae). Ichthyological Research. Vol 62.2, pp. 207–212. [Abstract]