Data-driven mathematical model of East-Asian facial attractiveness: The relative contributions of shape and reflectance to attractiveness judgements

Koyo Nakamura, Katsumi Watanabe

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Facial attractiveness is judged through a combination of multiple cues including morphology (facial shape) and skin properties (facial reflectance). While several studies have examined the way in which people in Western cultures judge facial attractiveness, there have been fewer investigations into non-Western attitudes. This is because stimuli that quantitatively vary the attractiveness of non-Western faces are rare. In the present study, we built a model of the attractiveness of East-Asian faces, judged by East-Asian observers. Therefore, 400 computer-generated East-Asian faces were created and attractiveness rating scores were collected from Japanese observers. Data-driven mathematical calculations were used to identify quantitative links between facial attractiveness and shape and reflectance properties, with no prior hypothesis. Results indicate that faces with larger eyes, smaller noses and brighter skin are judged as more attractive, regardless of the sex of the faces, possibly reflecting a general preference for femininity. Shape is shown to be a strong determinant of attractiveness for both male and female faces, while reflectance properties are less important in judging male facial attractiveness. Our model provides a tool to effectively produce East-Asian face stimuli that quantitatively varies attractiveness and can be used to elucidate visual processes related to attractiveness judgements.

Original languageEnglish
Article number182189
JournalRoyal Society Open Science
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2019 May 1



  • Data-driven mathematical model
  • Facial attractiveness
  • Facial reflectance
  • Facial shape

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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