Make up and 'facial contrast', with Alex Jones. 24 March 2015

Tuesday, March 24, 2015 Rob 0 Comments

Why do women wear make up? I interview Alex Jones of Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania about his new research into cosmetics and 'facial contrast' (follow @AlexJonesPHD on Twitter). Also, how did Kim Kardashian break the Internet? Was it her massive bum, or the pronounced curvature of her lower back?


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How Kim Kardashian’s Curvy Back Broke the Internet.


Why do women wear make up? I interview Alex Jones of Gettysburg College PA about his new research that suggests make up works by enhancing female-typical 'facial contrast'.

The articles covered in the show

Jones, A. L. (2015). Cosmetics alter biologically-based factors of beauty: evidence from facial contrast. Evolutionary Psychology, 13(1), 210-229. Read summary

Jones, A. L., & Kramer, R. S. S. (2015). Facial cosmetics have little effect on attractiveness judgments compared with identity. Perception, 44, 79-86. Read summary

Lewis, D. M. G., Russell, E. M., Al-Shawaf, L., & Buss, D. M. (in press). Lumbar curvature: A novel evolved standard of attractiveness. Evolution and Human Behavior. Read summary

The images Alex and I mentioned in the show


Richard Russell's "The Illusion of Sex" placed third in the 2009 Illusion of the Year Contest. Most people perceive the face on the left as female, and the face on the right as male. In fact, the photographs show the same face (a computer-generated androgynous face): the only difference is that the contrast of the face on the left is higher than the that of the face on the right. The effect is so strong, it is difficult not to see a woman and a man.


A figure from Alex's paper. The white lines encircle the 'features' (eye, eyebrow, and mouth) and the black lines the surrounding areas. It was the contrast between the features and the surrounding skin that Alex measured. He confirmed that facial contrast is higher in women than in men. His other research showed that women exaggerate these sex differences with make up.



This figure is from the Lewis paper, and shows how he manipulated back curvature. Men preferred a curvature of around 45 degrees. Listen in to find out why.

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