Cultural differences in preferences for facial coloration

Han, Chengyang and Wang, Hongyi and Hahn, Amanda C. and Fisher, Claire I. and Kandrik, Michal and Fasolt, Vanessa and Morrison, Danielle K. and Lee, Anthony J. and Holzleitner, Iris J. and DeBruine, Lisa M. and Jones, Benedict C. (2018) Cultural differences in preferences for facial coloration. Evolution and Human Behavior, 39 (2). pp. 154-159. ISSN 1090-5138

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    Abstract

    Effects of facial coloration on facial attractiveness judgments are hypothesized to be “universal” (i.e., similar across cultures). Cross-cultural similarity in facial color preferences is a critical piece of evidence for this hypothesis. However, only two studies have directly compared facial color preferences in two cultures. Both of those studies reported that White UK and Black African participants showed similar preferences for facial coloration. By contrast with the cross-cultural similarity reported in those studies, here we show cultural differences in the effects of facial coloration on Chinese and White UK participants’ facial attractiveness judgments. While Chinese participants preferred faces with decreased yellowness to faces with increased yellowness, White UK participants preferred faces with increased yellowness to faces with decreased yellowness. Chinese participants also demonstrated weaker preferences for facial redness and stronger preferences for facial lightness than did White UK participants. These results suggest that preferences for facial coloration are not universal.