Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder: the appraisal of facial attractiveness and its relation to conscious awareness

Tsikandilakis, Myron; Bali, Persefoni; Chapman, Peter


Myron Tsikandilakis

Persefoni Bali


Previous research suggests that facial attractiveness relies on features such as symmetry, averageness and above-average sexual dimorphic characteristics. Due to the evolutionary and sociobiological value of these characteristics, it has been suggested that attractiveness can be processed in the absence of conscious awareness. This raises the possibility that attractiveness can also be appraised without conscious awareness. In the present study, we addressed this hypothesis. We presented neutral and emotional faces that were rated high, medium and low for attractiveness during a pilot experimental stage. We presented these faces for 33.33 ms with backwards masking to a black and white pattern for 116.67 ms and measured face-detection and emotion-discrimination performance, and attractiveness ratings. We found that high-attractiveness faces were detected and discriminated more accurately and rated higher for attractiveness compared to other appearance types. A Bayesian analysis of signal detection performance indicated that faces were not processed significantly at-chance. Further assessment revealed that correct detection (hits) of a presented face was a necessary condition for reporting higher ratings for high-attractiveness faces. These findings suggest that the appraisal of attractiveness requires conscious awareness.


Tsikandilakis, M., Bali, P., & Chapman, P. (2019). Beauty is in the eye of the beholder: the appraisal of facial attractiveness and its relation to conscious awareness. Perception, 48(1), 72-92.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Oct 23, 2018
Online Publication Date Dec 19, 2018
Publication Date Jan 1, 2019
Deposit Date Oct 25, 2018
Publicly Available Date Oct 25, 2018
Journal Perception
Print ISSN 0301-0066
Electronic ISSN 1468-4233
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 48
Issue 1
Pages 72-92
Keywords Experimental and Cognitive Psychology; Sensory Systems; Artificial Intelligence; General Medicine
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information Copyright © 2018 by SAGE Publications


You might also like

Downloadable Citations