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Attractiveness in the Eyes: A Possibility of Positive Loop between Transient Pupil Constriction and Facial Attraction

Liao, Hsin-I and Kashino, Makio and Shimojo, Shinsuke (2021) Attractiveness in the Eyes: A Possibility of Positive Loop between Transient Pupil Constriction and Facial Attraction. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 33 (2). pp. 315-340. ISSN 0898-929X.

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Contrary to the long-held belief of a close linkage between pupil dilation and attractiveness, we found an early and transient pupil constriction response when participants viewed an attractive face (and the effect of luminance/contrast was controlled). While human participants were making an attractiveness judgment on faces, their pupil constricted more for the more attractive (as-to-be-rated) faces. Further experiments showed that the effect of pupil constriction to attractiveness judgment extended to intrinsically esthetic visual objects such as natural scene images (as well as faces) but not to line-drawing geometric figures. When participants were asked to judge the roundness of faces, pupil constriction still correlated with their attractiveness but not the roundness rating score, indicating the automaticity of the pupil constriction to attractiveness. When pupillary responses were manipulated implicitly by relative background luminance changes (from the prestimulus screen), the facial attractiveness ratings were in accordance with the amount of pupil constriction, which could not be explained solely by simultaneous or sequential luminance contrast. The overall results suggest that pupil constriction not only reflects but, as a part of self-monitoring and attribution mechanisms, also possibly contributes to facial attractiveness implicitly.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription Paper
Liao, Hsin-I0000-0002-4740-7380
Kashino, Makio0000-0002-4354-6690
Shimojo, Shinsuke0000-0002-1290-5232
Additional Information:© 2020 Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Posted Online January 04, 2021. This study was partly supported by Core Research for Evolutional Science & Technology (CREST) from the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST). We would like to thank Ms. Ying-Chun (Ivy) Chen and Prof. Regina W.-Y. Wang for providing the line drawing face stimuli. Funding Information: Japan Science and Technology Agency (
Group:Tianqiao and Chrissy Chen Institute for Neuroscience
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Japan Science and Technology AgencyUNSPECIFIED
Issue or Number:2
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20201006-153120839
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Official Citation:Attractiveness in the Eyes: A Possibility of Positive Loop between Transient Pupil Constriction and Facial Attraction. Hsin-I Liao, Makio Kashino, and Shinsuke Shimojo. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience 2021 33:2, 315-340; DOI: 10.1162/jocn_a_01649
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:105847
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:07 Oct 2020 00:07
Last Modified:02 Jun 2021 21:41

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