Background: Research over the past 20 years has shown that judgments of facial attractiveness are universal; people from all cultures and backgrounds rank and rate faces for attractiveness the same. As such a model for objectively rating facial attractiveness is theoretically plausible, if designed, it would have many uses, including outcomes analysis in plastic surgery of the face. The authors tested a schematic facial composite/prototype mathematical model (the phi mask created by Dr. Stephen Marquardt) as a method for measuring facial attractiveness in an objective manner.
Methods: Thirty-seven male and 35 female faces of 18- to 30-year-old whites of European extraction were rated, as were 31 composite faces of each sex using both Internet and direct survey judges. The faces were tested against the phi mask model analyzing deviations of facial anthropometric points from corresponding phi mask nodal points using equivalent weightings, and weightings arrived at by way of multiple linear regression.
Results: The deviation from the phi mask significantly correlates with attractiveness, explaining from 25 to 75 percent of the variance in attractiveness judgments, depending on the methodology used.
Conclusions: The phi mask model supports averageness or prototypicality of the face as being the major component of the facial attractiveness gestalt and is a first step in producing an objective system for measuring facial attractiveness.