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Published February 2021 | Submitted + Published
Journal Article Open

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


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.

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 (http://dx.doi.org/10.13039/501100002241).

Attached Files

Published - jocn_a_01649.pdf

Submitted - 2020.04.02.021436v2.full.pdf


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August 20, 2023
December 22, 2023