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How does aging affect facial attractiveness? We tested the hypothesis that people find older faces less attractive than younger faces, and furthermore, that these aging effects are modulated by the age and sex of the perceiver and by the specific kind of attractiveness judgment being made. Using empirical and computational network science methods, we confirmed that with increasing age, faces are perceived as less attractive. This effect was less pronounced in judgments made by older than younger and middle-aged perceivers, and more pronounced by men (especially for female faces) than women. Attractive older faces were perceived as elegant more than beautiful or gorgeous. Furthermore, network analyses revealed that older faces were more similar in attractiveness and were segregated from younger faces. These results indicate that perceivers tend to process older faces categorically when making attractiveness judgments. Attractiveness is not a monolithic construct. It varies by age, sex, and the dimensions of attractiveness being judged.
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... Research on the "good is beautiful" stereotype, however, has focused almost exclusively on characterizing attractiveness stereotyping in younger faces, leaving potential interactions with aging underexplored. Older faces are generally perceived as less attractive and are assigned more negative traits than younger faces (He et al., 2021;North & Fiske, 2015), an effect that may be amplified by negative moral character inferences or dampened by beliefs of moral goodness. This study examined whether and how perceived moral character, whether informed by morally good actions or by moral transgressions, influences perceptions of facial beauty among different ages and sexes of faces. ...
... Using effect sizes computed from data reported in Paunonen (2006), a minimum sample of n = 322 participants was expected to provide sufficient power (80%) to detect the effects of interest. Data were excluded from 64 participants: 10 due to extreme values for duration (e.g., a duration of 22.07 hr) identified with outlier analysis in SPSS (Curran, 2016), four for reporting that their responses were of poor quality, 14 for failing more than two of five attentional catch trials, one for missing data, and 35 for choosing not to report their sex since participant gender has been reported to play a role in perceived facial attractiveness (He et al., 2021). The final sample consisted of n = 378 participants (age: 38.31 6 10.06 years; range: 21-72 years; education: 14.96 6 2.27 years; race/ethnicity: 319 White, 31 Black, 12 Asian, 15 Hispanic or Latinx, one American Indian/Alaskan Native; sexual orientation: 321 heterosexual, 14 homosexual, 40 bisexual, and three other). ...
... The stimuli comprised 12 pairs of images, with each pair depicting the same face but either younger (age: 20-29 years; attractiveness: 4.53 6 0.84) or older (age: 60 years and older; attractiveness: 3.20 6 0.46) in appearance. These face images were chosen from a previous study on effects of face age on judgments of different facets of attractiveness (He et al., 2021). See Figure 1 for sample stimuli. ...
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A well-documented “beauty is good” stereotype is expressed in the expectation that physically attractive people have more positive characteristics. Recent evidence has also found that unattractive faces are associated with negative character inferences. Is what is good (bad) also beautiful (ugly)? Whether this conflation of aesthetic and moral values is bidirectional is not known. This study tested the hypothesis that complementary “good is beautiful” and “bad is ugly” stereotypes bias aesthetic judgments. Using highly controlled face stimuli, this preregistered study examined whether moral character influences perceptions of attractiveness for different ages and sexes of faces. Compared to faces paired with nonmoral vignettes, those paired with prosocial vignettes were rated significantly more attractive, confident, and friendlier. The opposite pattern characterized faces paired with antisocial vignettes. A significant interaction between vignette type and the age of the face was detected for attractiveness. Moral transgressions affected attractiveness more negatively for younger than older faces. Sex-related differences were not detected. These results suggest information about moral character affects our judgments about facial attractiveness. Better (worse) people are considered more (less) attractive. These findings suggest that beliefs about moral goodness and physical beauty influence each other bidirectionally.
... However, perception of facial age is heavily influenced by factors such as ethnicity, socioeconomical background, gender, and age [24][25][26]. Interestingly, irrespective of advances in facial age, patients were found to have a positive effect in aesthetics postsurgery in the paper by Papoian et al. [27]. While this result seems to be counterintuitive, attractiveness is a subjective and convoluted entity [28]. ...
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... Women are afraid of experiencing the process of aging because they believe that a wrinkled face will make them become less attractive. Age has a big impact on facial attractiveness (He et al., 2021). They believe that younger faces are more appealing than older faces. ...
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... In reflecting on the experiment, it also is important to note that although the two avatars are supposed to differ only based on their age, it is possible that the older avatar was deemed less physically attractive compared with the younger avatar. This difference, however, reflects differences in attitudes towards younger and older people's attractiveness in general (He et al., 2021). Another limitation of the study concerns using a randomized procedure, which relied on a single time point to measure the immediate effects of the intervention. ...
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... We present an overview of our findings across Studies 2 to 4 in Figure 1. In Study 2, we built on work regarding age stereotypes, suggesting that younger people are stereotypically seen as more attractive and more sporty (e.g., He et al., 2021;Mussweiler, 2006). ...
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