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Lisa DeBruine and Ben Jones
School of Psychology
University of Aberdeen
Aberdeen, Scotland

Visual experience and cue integration in face perception.

Many researchers consider attractiveness to be a simple physical property of faces. Here, however, we show that recent visual experience recalibrates face preferences and that cues of social interest modulate the strength of preferences for physical attractiveness. In the first part of our talk, we will discuss findings from a series of experiments using visual adaptation to demonstrate neural sensitivity to sex categories and a striking dissociation between perceived normality and attractiveness. In the second half of our talk, we will discuss evidence for complex integration of physical attractiveness and social cues (e.g., gaze direction and emotional expression) when forming face preferences, allowing for efficient allocation of social effort and social transmission of face preferences. Together, these findings show that attractiveness is more than simply "physical beauty" and highlight the sophistication of the mechanisms underpinning human face preferences.