The standards of beauty in society change over time - this is a well-known fact. But our own ideas about the attractive appearance of this or that person do not remain unchanged - sometimes even for several minutes. What influences our perception of the beauty of others so much?
You will not believe it, but scientists confirm: the dating sites and mobile apps are to blame, writes Air force.
I once liked smooth-shaven male faces. But then a beard came into fashion, and my preferences began to change. Seeing beards of various sizes everywhere, I began to realize that there was something in it. And, obviously, there was not one.
“I find bearded men attractive. It didn't matter before, but now half of my acquaintances wear a beard, ”said one participant in a survey conducted by the Guardian newspaper.
Obviously, millennia of natural selection have forced us to favor certain physical features. For example, we find symmetrical faces more attractive - presumably because they indicate healthy human genes.
We know that beauty standards change over time, but it doesn't happen very quickly - it's influenced by both the media and popular culture. And although we understand that everyone's tastes are different, many are convinced that their ideal of good looks remains the same throughout their lives.
It turns out, however, that we change our views on beauty much more often - for not even years or months, but sometimes literally a few minutes.
“Beauty is indeed still in the eye of the beholder. But as our current research shows, the beholder is constantly changing, ”says Haiyan Young, assistant professor at Johns Hopkins' Carey School of Business.
Young is leading a study that found that our perceptions and judgments of beauty can be influenced by the opinions of others. "It can be argued that in the age of the Internet, people's perceptions of beauty began to change much faster than at any other time in history."
Probably, the reason for this inconsistency is in the thousands of photos with which the Internet and, in particular, online dating services bombard us every day.
Interestingly, recent studies have shown that our ideas about attractiveness are not only subject to frequent changes, but also depend on the people we have just looked at. On websites or in mobile dating applications this, of course, happens all the time and in a split second.
During a study conducted at the University of Sydney, women evaluated the attractiveness of 60 men, images of which appeared on the screen for only a third of a second.
Scientists found that participants tended to rate the next person as attractive, if they also liked the one before. The same thing happened and vice versa: if the person in the previous photo seemed unattractive to them, they were more likely to evaluate the next image negatively.
There was an impression that the perception of beauty in the experiment participants changes with each new face. This phenomenon is explained by the way our brain processes new information.
“Our brains are not able to quickly process all the information we see, and therefore, where possible, it simplifies its work by drawing on previous visual experience,” explains Jessica Taubert, author of the study at the University of Sydney.
The simplification that the brain uses in such a situation is called serial dependence. We expect that the physical attributes of the subject do not change in an instant. That is, when you, for example, looked at a cup of coffee, and then looked away, you are sure that it will look the same and then when you look at it again.
The same thing happens when we look at photos of people on dating sites. Looking from one profile to another, we give in to illusion. Our brain simply does not have time to analyze the next photo as a new information and perceives a new face in the same way as it estimated the previous one.
“The fact that the brain tries to quickly adapt to the visual environment is not new. But what's new is the speed with which this environment is changing, ”says Teresa Pegors, co-author of the study.
“Beauty thus becomes a fluid category, causing an irrepressible desire to constantly choose something new. Which could be the reason why it is increasingly difficult for us to be satisfied with one partner over time. ”
Quick look effect
If you notice that you like many more people on the Internet than in real life, the reason may be in the speed with which you browse the pages of social networks. Researchers have found that people seem attractive to us when we look at them in passing, and not when we look closely.
Attractiveness is a valuable parameter, because this person can be our potential partner. Therefore, the brain, not having enough information, chooses an important option for itself - great attractiveness.
“If someone seems more beautiful to you than he or she really is, everything is simple - you can look at them more closely the second time [and either make sure that you like the person or be disappointed],” explains David Eagleman, neurophysiologist at Stanford University and co-author of the study.
“But if you do not accidentally notice, underestimate the attractiveness of a particular person, you risk missing out on the chance to establish a relationship with him,” he adds.
When you quickly glance at profiles on a dating site, the "quick look" effect kicks in.
“In dating apps, it seems like it's better to swipe right and check if this option really works for us than weed it out and then regret it. Who hasn't this happened to? You automatically flip through the profile of a guy or a girl and only later realize that they were great, ”says Eagleman.
Teresa Pegors sees a positive point in such situations: it proves that we can influence the perception of our brain by sending it different information.
“Our visual perception of beauty changes with every face we see. This means that experience makes our beauty standards more realistic, ”the researcher notes. - In other words, we do not dwell on an unattainable ideal that the digital age feeds us beyond measure. We can just skip such images. ”
But for this you need to get out of your favorite mobile dating application ... It's easier to say than to do.