Facial attractiveness is a core facial attribute in social interactions. This study used a breaking continuous flash suppression (b-CFS) paradigm to investigate whether facial attractiveness can be processed unconsciously. In the b-CFS paradigm, a monocularly viewed visual stimulus is erased from visual awareness by rapidly flashing, high-contrast masks presented to the other eye. Faces with different levels of attractiveness but an emotionally neutral expression were presented under CFS, and the time taken to break CFS was measured. Our results demonstrated that attractive faces were detected more quickly than unattractive ones, indicating privileged processing of attractive faces (Experiment 1). This effect dissipated when facial images were scrambled to disrupt the face-like configuration (Experiment 2) but was still observed in cases of inverted faces (Experiment 3). These results indicate that preconscious processing of facial attractiveness requires a face-like configuration but does not necessarily require information about precise metrical relationships between facial features.
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