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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Read the transcript!
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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Beautiful leaders - undermining democracy with a pretty face. 10 March 2015

Tuesday, March 10, 2015 Rob 1 Comments

How democracy is undermined by the psychology of attractiveness: we discover why good looking candidates have an advantage come polling day, either because their beauty distracts from their extreme policies, or (if they're very lucky) because their constituents are ill.


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Remember David Cameron's allegedly airbrushed poster from 2010? Well, he might have been onto something...

The articles covered in the show:

Herrmann, M., & Shikano, S. (in press). Attractiveness and facial competence bias face-based inferences of candidate ideology. Political Psychology. Read summary

Zebrowitz, L. A., Franklin, R. G., & Palumbo, R. (2015). Ailing voters advance attractive congressional candidates. Evolutionary Psychology, 13(1), 16-28. Read summary

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Lingerie, chocolate, and shopping. 24 Feb 2015

Sunday, March 08, 2015 Rob 0 Comments

Consumer psychology meets the psychology of attraction: how female fertility influences desire for variety in products. And look but don’t touch: observing male behaviour in lingerie stores.


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More chocolate is always better than less chocolate. But new research shows that women are more interested in getting a good variety of chocolate (and other consumer products) when they're most fertile.

The articles covered in the show:

Moule, K. R., & Fisher, M. (2014). You can look but you cannot touch: Male behaviors observed in lingerie stores. Human Ethology Bulletin, 29(4), 4-17. Read paper

Durante, K. M., & Rae Arsena, A. (in press). Playing the field: The effect of fertility on women’s desire for variety. Journal of Consumer Research. Read summary

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