Talk:Facial symmetry

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Some side by side comparisons of digitally altered faces of the same person, showing the effects of symmetry on perceived attractiveness Richard001 00:55, 6 June 2007 (UTC)


Isn't this more about facial asymmetry, then? — mark 18:13, 1 Jun 2005 (UTC)

I suppose it is in a way, but perhaps asymmetry is judged by the lack of symmetry, and thus Facial symmetry is the parent title. It's also about the pursuit of symmetry. violet/riga (t) 18:25, 1 Jun 2005 (UTC)
Ah well — never mind, it's that simple. I should be doing other things anyway. Thanks for explaining! — mark 18:30, 1 Jun 2005 (UTC)


I'm not convinced that much of this, especially the "Golden Ratio" sections, will withstand close examination. Certainly, they present a theory in a very POV way. It looks like a poorly disguised ad for the plastic surgery services of Stephen Marquardt...who also just happens to have a page...which happens to have a link to a "Beauty Analysis" website. I haven't checked yet, but I'd place good money on who owns the website.

This topic is potentially interesting, but... Beska Miltar 12:27, 3 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Agreed. Parts of this look like original research. 23:19, 2 Jun 2005 (UTC)

What does the golden ratio have to do with facial symmetry? This is nonsense.

I've included an external link to – if they include it then surely that indicates some noteworthyness. The fact is that it is a proposed theory which has been reported on websites and television programmes and it's hardly central to the article. It's not like it says to people that they must have plastic surgery and fit the mask in order to have facial symmetry and beauty. violet/riga (t) 09:42, 3 Jun 2005 (UTC)
That's an argument from authority--there have been many nonsense "proposed theories" on television, even on channels which happen to have "Learning" in their name. 21:38, 3 Jun 2005 (UTC)
If we can have articles on the Time Cube then this can be included. Please don't just go around removing things. violet/riga (t) 22:04, 3 Jun 2005 (UTC)
The Time Cube article is fairly NPOV and does not present as fact assertions like "People of either sex who are considered "attractive" in various cultures have been found to have facial symmetry based on the golden ratio of 1:1.618." Massive sweeping generalizations like this should raise red flags. Considered attractive by whom? Which cultures? How exactly do you "base" symmetry on a ratio, anyway? Claims like this should be more specific and have more support than the word of a single plastic surgeon. Also, with all due respect, you are no more qualified than I am to judge whether or not something should be removed, so don't tell me what the proper way to contribute is. 01:12, 4 Jun 2005 (UTC)
Oh, by the way, to avoid confusion: I was not the one who wrote "What does the golden ratio have to do with facial symmetry? This is nonsense." above. 01:20, 4 Jun 2005 (UTC)
The edits you made were absolutely fine. For the record that is the one part of the article I didn't write, and, while I do believe it deserves inclusion, I think your rewrite presents the information better. violet/riga (t) 09:06, 4 Jun 2005 (UTC)

The Fine Line[edit]

This article straddles that tantalizingly fine line between fact and the pernicious kind of fiction that poses as pseudoscience. However, if the claims made by the article are strictly confined to the aesthetic, then I personally see little harm. Indeed, articles on popular culture, fashions, and cosmetics, although not important can still be notable. I believe that Wikipedia should not just be an encyclopedia of science and technology.

Having said that, this article does run the risk of Systemic bias of an unexpected sort, one that upholds what Social constructionism terms the beauty myth. Although worth keeping, this article will need a broader cultural perspective (proportion differs between cultures) and a broader historic perspective (those who may be well-proportioned in one era may not in another). Such perspectives provide powerful counterexamples that negate some of the sweeping generalizations now present in this article.

With this in mind, I read the medical sources cited here, and the article does accurately reflect many of their scientific claims. My problem is with the scientific claims themselves. (Dear Admins: Please understand that it does not require any Original research to cite counterexamples that dispute these claims.) I have a problem with the following claims: (1) The correllation between lengths of the 2nd and 4th fingers to facial symmetry ignores particularly important counterexamples, including the beautiful and talented newscaster/actress Bree Walker. (2) In almost every age, concepts of beauty and proportion will differ. Temporarily ignoring U.S. culture's current penchant for disproportionately large breast implants, the post-Renaissance art movement known as Mannerism celebrated the disproportionately long necks of its female subjects, and who among us who weigh more than 100 kilograms would have liked to have lived in the time of Rubens.

Finally, in studying the bone structure of the skull and making scientific claims places this in a longstanding tradition of phrenology and craniometry. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Although Phrenology had long been regarded as a pseudoscience it did call attention to be brain as the residence of the mind. It also led the way to localizing areas of specialization in the brain. Even though Phenology got the facts wrong by judging ones character by the bumps on one's head, it did direct attention in a useful direction.

With these thoughts in mind, I plan to edit this article. Vonkje 02:51, 26 Jun 2005 (UTC)

By all means expand the article. I wrote most of it based on the references presented and a few other things I came across. At no point does it say anything that is concrete fact, just various proposals and theories. You seem to have some good ideas about how to progress the article so go for it, and good luck! violet/riga (t) 22:20, 26 Jun 2005 (UTC)


Is this considered a Pseudoscience? I'm not familiar with the topic. Just wondering. 18:28, 26 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Oops! I should have constructed the link in my comments to Pseudoscience. That article should answer your question and more. The facts stated as science in this article need more verification. Fortunately aesthetic rather than health claims were made by the plastic surgeon. Such claims are more easily verified but would still require proper experimental design. I can describe what that design would look like on this page (but not in the article) if anyone is interested.
Vonkje 22:05, 26 Jun 2005 (UTC)


We really need to be careful about health claims here. I read the article relating the ratio of the lenghts of the 2nd and 4th fingers to other possible bone anomalies (ie: facial asymmetry) and related health effects. The authors were asserting correlation not causality. The use of the word "determinant", however denotes causality. I replaced it with the words "associated with".

The aesthetic claim of univerality as in "universal determinant" was removed until a double blind cross-cultural study that associates attractiveness to facial symmetry is published in a refereed journal, and cited herein. I personally would be interested in the relative importance of facial symmetry to skin condition, condition of connective tissues, age, expression, hair and eye colour, culture and ethnicity, etc. Vonkje 1 July 2005 16:01 (UTC)

Evidence please[edit]

This stuff does indeed look like pseudoscience. If facial symmetry is such an important factor in attractiveness how come Angelina Jolie for example looks so attractive despite having a noticeably assymetric face. Same with Katie Holmes. How come attractive people look just as attractive when viewed in profile or at an angle that obscures part of their face. Kuratowski's Ghost 01:39, 8 February 2006 (UTC)

It certainly has exceptions to the rules, which are merely the theories of some people. violet/riga (t) 10:01, 10 February 2006 (UTC)

Removed vulgar language

"It has been proposed that"[edit]

The phrase "it has been proposed that..." is the hallmark of an unencyclopedic hack of an article. Who proposed that? Cite your sources or stick to your 'blog. This is tripe.

I concur .. I have been looking that that "it has been proposed" phrase for almost eight months now and it has been a rock in my shoe. The only reason why I have not changed it yet is that this article seems to be making aesthetic (rather than health) claims. I rank aesthetic claims up there with the latest news on Madonna (entertainer), who, by the way, is pretty asymmetric her own self. (see last month's National Enquirer) .. Then again, what the hey, I'll go on ahead and change it .. wish me luck. Vonkje 01:39, 30 June 2006 (UTC)
Okay, I found who proposed it, read his article in the (British) Jounal of Orthodontics. He never used the word determinant as in determinant of health Rather, he made the sounder (albeit weaker) claim of an indicator of health. This article might finally be inching its way toward being encyclopedic Vonkje 21:35, 17 August 2006 (UTC)

Marquardt's work was not published[edit]

I have copied and pasted the entry summarizing his work here, in the event someone finds that this work was indeed published in a medical or dental journal after 2005. (See the external link by the UIC School of Dentistry which puts this work into context). Vonkje 21:35, 17 August 2006 (UTC)

Plastic surgeon Stephen Marquardt has developed a highly symmetric beauty mask marked with various outlines of facial features based on the golden ratio (1:1.618). He has published a study which claims to find that people of either sex who are considered "attractive" in various cultures have facial features which fit the mask.

... and here's the link which, BTW, is dead: Vonkje 21:44, 17 August 2006 (UTC)

The Suzi Malin thing is Tripe[edit]

I have gradually weeded this article of POV and it is starting to resemble something encyclopedic with one exception. The attractiveness section featuring Malin's work, neologisms and all, looks more like opinion than fact. This is especially true since the health claims in this article had been (realistically) scaled back based on my almost competent scholarship.

Once we get a consensus that indeed this section is tripe, and we remove it, we can then appeal to the larger Wikipedia community to have an expert who is either a Dentist, Oral Surgeon, or a Maxillar-facial Surgeon review this for balance, accuracy and nuance. (This article might still be making unsubstantiated claims -- we need expert review here). Vonkje 22:40, 17 August 2006 (UTC)

It is worthy of inclusion. The related book has been published and received significant attention, thus making it notable. True, it can be viewed as rubbish, but it is a theory that someone has made that has become noteworthy. violet/riga (t) 15:23, 18 August 2006 (UTC)

Aesthetic claims weakened[edit]

I found the following footnote on page 364 of a book titled: The Face, by Daniel McNeill, copyright 1998, which I quote verbatim. (Warning To avoid plagarism, incorporating this wording into the article requires paraphrasing, while maintaining accuracy of fact, balance, and nuance).

"Beauty is not a single quality. It involves a mix of signals, especially of averageness, sexual maturity, youth, and health."
"(But) what about symmetry? It is crucial to mating success in certain animals, especailly flying ones. ... Hence some scientists suggested that symmetry makes people's faces more attractive as well, and one experiment found that it did." – K. Grammer and R. Thornhill "Human (Homo sapiens) Facial Attractivenss and Sexual Selection: The Role of Symmetry and Averageness," Jounal of Comparative Psychology, vol. 108, pp 233-242, 1994.
"Unfortunately, follow-up studies failed to replicate this finding .." – C. A. Samuels, G. butterworth, T Roberts, L. Graupner, and G. Hole, "Facial Aesthetics: Babies Prefer Attractiveness to Symmetry," Perception, vol. 23, pp. 823-831, 1994.
"Psychologist Rotem Kowner discovered that people actually deemed mild facial asymmetry more attractive, especially in the young." – R. Kowner "Facial Asymmetry and Attractiveness Judgments in Developmental Perspective," Jounal of Experimental Psychology, vol. 22, pp. 662-675, 1996.

Initially, I felt better about the aesthethic claims than the health claims in this article. Now that the health claims have been brought into perspective, I find that the aesthetic claims have less merit than I initially thought. This article will need rework. Vonkje 23:07, 17 August 2006 (UTC)

i think it's important to note here that the methodologies used in the Samuels and Kowner studies (i.e. the studies that found no effects of symmetry on attractiveness) have been thoroughly discredited by peer-reviewed scientific papers (see, e.g. Perrett et al. 1999 Evolution and Human Behavior). A recent met-analysis published in the Annual Review of Psychology by Gillian Rhodes concluded that the scientific literature presents very strong evidence that facial symmetry is positively associated with attractiveness. (talk) 21:44, 27 August 2008 (UTC)

Page move[edit]

Bodily symmetry is just as or more important than facial symmetry, especially in animal studies. Unless someone plans on doing a symmetry page for each body part, I will move this page to symmetry (physical attractiveness). I just wrote the complementary averageness page, but I didn't list it as “facial averageness” (too narrow), because there have been image morphing studies done on both full-body symmetry and averageness. --Sadi Carnot 03:47, 14 February 2007 (UTC)

There doesn't seem to be a lot of flow on this page, so I will move it. If there is big issue we can always move it back or discuss alternatives. As it stands, we need full sub articles beauty as a function of averageness, symmetry, and youthfulness, at a minimum. --Sadi Carnot 03:56, 14 February 2007 (UTC)

The science of symmetry preferences[edit]

I thought that the people editing this page should be made aware that there is considerable evidence (i.e. 20+ scientific papers published in peer-reviewed scientific journals) demonstrating, using a variety of different methods, that increasing symmetry in faces does increase their attractiveness. these studies are not correlational, allowing conclusions about a causal relationship between symmetry and attractiveness to be made. Indeed, a recent meta-analysis confirmed that the literature does show an effect of symmetry on facial attractiveness (Rhodes, 2006 Annual Review of Psychology). It is also worth noting that the methodologies used by those studies that found no effect of symmetry on attractiveness (the Samuels study and also a study by Swaddle & Cuthill) have been extensively criticised in the scientific literature. It is certainly not pseudoscience (as some have suggested). Research on symmetry preferences have been published in some (or even all) of the most respected biology and psychology peer-reviewed scientific journals. Although some of the people editing this article appear to make bold statements suggesting that all of the studies of symmetry preferences are correlational, that there have been no studies comparing symmetry preferences with preferenmces for skin condition, and that there have been no cross-cultural studies of symmetry preferences, this is simply not an accurate representation of the scientific literature on this topic. There are many peer-reviewed studies published in well-respected scientific journals addressing precisely these issues.

While there is little (or no) debate among biologists and psychologists that increasing symmetry increases facial attractiveness, there is considerable debate about why this is the case (perceptual bias vs. evolutionary advantage accounts). 17:45, 14 August 2007 (UTC)

As far as I'm concerned, this article is complete nonsense, not that far from WP:Fringe. Human face has natural asymmetry that is part of what makes a face appealing. A completely symmetrical face would make it look like a mask made of plastic. That should be basic knowledge to anybody who has attended at least one or two art, portrait classes. As well as there are certain features and proportions of human face that make it more or less attractive. for example the distance between the nose and mouth, the distance between the eyes, the shapes of eyes, mouth, lips etc.
At the same time, if you go beyond certain limits of asymmetry and look deformed, it's self explanatory that you wouldn't look that nice. And again, anybody suggesting that lets say it would help Quasimodo be "physically more attractive" in case his head was more symmetrical...? Is that serious? So I don't know what have those "20+ recent meta-analysis" confirmed?
The article would be better off using a title "a theory or a hypothesized Symmetry based physical attractiveness" . The best would be to rewrite the article entirely in order to put things into a perspective according to actual aesthetic principles.--Termer (talk) 21:25, 9 December 2008 (UTC)

termer, when you say this "And again, anybody suggesting that lets say it would help Quasimodo be "physically more attractive" in case his head was more symmetrical...? Is that serious? So I don't know what have those "20+ recent meta-analysis" confirmed?" you simply demonstrate that you are unfamilar with research on this topic. scientific papers published in peer-reviewed scientific journals have shown precisely that. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:42, 2 May 2009 (UTC)

For a variety of policy reasons, wikipedia ends up with a primarily scientific not nonsense someone made up without properly testing aesthetic principles POV. Nil Einne (talk) 13:59, 7 February 2009 (UTC)

scientific papers have shown? really? I'll just let some sources do the talking: Both symmetry and asymmetry play a role in art and may have aesthetic appeal.The asymmetry which has the most aesthetic appeal is not the conjunction of two parts that are totally unalike and thus unrelated but the conjunction of similar and related parts that are, nevertheless, to some degree or in some way or ways contrasted to one another--Termer (talk) 06:35, 24 October 2009 (UTC)

General cleanup needed[edit]

This article is kind of a mess. It sounds like it used to be more of a mess; thanks to those who've cleaned it up in the past. But it still suffers from significant problems, including (1) being internally contradictory about its core topic, (2) not citing sources for at least one significant claim, (3) not addressing counterarguments, and (4) not defining terms. (I'm splitting my comment into several paragraphs, below, for ease of reading, but signing the comment here.) --Elysdir (talk) 17:26, 11 November 2009 (UTC)

1. Contradiction: "studies manipulating human face images report a preference for asymmetry. [...] When the shape of facial features is varied[...], increasing symmetry of face shape increases ratings of attractiveness"--that seems to say that facial asymmetry is preferred, and then that facial symmetry is preferred. Which is it? Also, the article seems to me to present a jumble of sources: some seem to say asymmetry correlates with attractiveness, some seem to say it doesn't, but the article doesn't seem to me to provide a coherent single statement about the sources disagreeing.

2. Lack of sourcing: "Facial symmetry is neither the only trait nor is it necessarily the most important trait of what a culture considers attractive. A competing aesthetic theory is wabi sabi." This reads like Original Research to me. Citation and/or rephrasing needed.

3. Conterarguments: There's no discussion of the fact that faces seen in profile or partial shadow can be seen as attractive (even though symmetry is impossible to judge in those cases), nor of the fact that bodies without faces visible can be seen as attractive. If the scientific studies address those issues, then this article should say so. If not, then I'm guessing someone must have pointed this out in a published source, and this article should say so.

4. Not defining terms: The opening paragraph says that symmetry is associated with physical attractiveness, beauty, and possibly interpersonal attraction and interpersonal chemistry. Even after following the Wikipedia links on those terms, I have no clear idea of why this article separates them from each other. What's the distinction here between those four terms?

  • Since the article and the whole concepts surrounding it contradict each other, the easiest fix would be simply renaming the article to something that would describe the facial symmetry-asymmetry matters in relation to "physical attractiveness".--Termer (talk) 03:30, 16 November 2009 (UTC)
I've reverted the article title to the original name and started up a rewrite but in the long run it would need a completely new and relevant title that would make sense. Any ideas are welcome.--Termer (talk) 06:53, 16 December 2009 (UTC)

Hypothesis about why facial symmetry is physically attractive[edit]

There is consensus that facial symmetry correlates positively with physical attractiveness. But why? Here is my guess. Wondering what others think about this.--Tomwsulcer (talk) 21:28, 25 July 2011 (UTC)

Added section about this. Research biologists (mostly working with animals) are finding the symmetry and physical attractiveness angle is correct, according to a fellow Wikipedian who is getting a PhD in biology. References exist and it's not new stuff but basically stuff biologists have figured out a while back. Check with User:Mokele for more information. References can be found in the literature about animals, primarily, (sorry I don't have JStor).--Tomwsulcer (talk) 01:14, 31 July 2011 (UTC)
If "references exist" then cite them please. Do you not have access to the original research? The site linked above appears to be your blog, which also does not cite sources for information that is provided in this article. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Esavel (talkcontribs) 23:40, 16 January 2012 (UTC)

Deleting section[edit]

A section under the heading Health and physical attractiveness is being removed. The first sentence references unverifiable work being done with animals. The very next sentence discusses human perception of faces. Here it is: "Biologists, based on work with animals mostly, are exploring new links between facial symmetry and physical attractiveness. When a face is symmetrical vertically, so that left and right sides mirror each other along a vertical axis, the mirroring makes it easy cognitively and perceptively for a human mind to tell if the two sides match. There is a visual copy of each side in plain view making it easy for a person to judge if left matches right." The bolds are mine. As it is presented, it sounds like the work is involving the human perception of animal faces, which if it is the case, makes the later parts of the paragraph about mate selection utterly, utterly confusing. This article is touching a lot on traits linked to genetic superiority and inferiority so opinions ought to backed up with some sources or otherwise kept to yourself or your blog. Esavel (talk) 00:02, 17 January 2012 (UTC)

"Left-handed" and "right-handed" faces[edit]

Nothing here about the usual way in which faces are asymmetric – I've noticed that most people have their faces twisted slightly to the right (that is, the distance from their cheekbone to their jaw is less on their right than their left). This certainly seems to work for most people I see – perhaps 70 to 90 percent have "right-handed" faces. Hardly anyone has a perfectly symmetrical face. Is there any published material on this? (I wonder if facial asymmetry is correlated with whether people are left or right handed?) Incidentally, cattle also seem to have asymmetrical faces, especially in lighter-boned breeds. Richard New Forest (talk) 18:30, 4 November 2012 (UTC)

One sentence is not very clear[edit]

I've read this phrase in the article "it is found that extraversion and openness are strongly associated with the symmetry of the face", and it's true (i have checked the scientific article) but it's not very clear, because according with the abstract, facial symmetry has a "positive association between facial symmetry and extraversion, but negative associations between facial symmetry and both agreeableness and openness."

So it would be great that someone changed it.

Gisele Bundchen ???[edit]

What does she have to do with symmetrical features? nothing proves her face is symmetrical or she's known for this.

Yes, today it has to do with attractiveness, but the picture just shows the person uploading it thinks she is attractive.

Facial symmetry and personality[edit]

The section focuses mainly on the big five personality traits. A paper by Fink, Neave, Manning and Grammar (2006) investigates if faces with high symmetry are perceived as having positive personality attributes. Differences found between high and low symmetry faces were not caused by an attractiveness stereotype. It is included in the section as a citation, but isn't really explained and this piece of research could widen the current section on personality which has a bias towards the Big 5 personality traits. Nicolehyare (talk) 14:38, 2 February 2016 (UTC)