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Attractiveness, distinctiveness, and recognition of faces: attractive faces can be typical or distinctive but are not better recognised.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


Journal publication date2003
JournalAmerican Journal of Psychology
Number of pages14
Original languageEnglish


The debate surrounding the relationship between facial attractiveness and distinctiveness appears to arise from different deŸnitions of distinctiveness. In our study unfamiliar faces were rated for attractiveness, age, and distinctiveness. Two measures of distinctiveness were used: ease of spotting the face in a crowd (traditional) and deviation from an average face (deviation). Recognition was not predicted by attractiveness. The traditional ratings produced a complex relationship with attractiveness, where unattractive faces were distinctive, but attractive faces were rated at all levels of distinctiveness. When the effects of age were partialled out, attractiveness no longer predicted traditional distinctiveness. However, deviation ratings produced a strong negative correlation with attractiveness, even when the effects of age were removed.