Attractiveness of Anthropometrically Average Facial Anatomy: Is the Whole a Sum of Its Parts?




Georgy, John


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Goals/Purpose: Literature suggests that faces that possess average anatomy for the population are considered more attractive. When patients seek facial cosmetic surgery, they often have a certain feature or features that they desire improvement on. With the subjective and evolving nature of beauty, it can be difficult for plastic surgeons to differentiate between relative change and definite improvement. Thus, identifying ideal dimensions of facial features would provide evidence-based guidance for aesthetic surgery. This study aims to investigate the independent relationship between measurements of anthropometrically average facial features and perceived beauty, as well as their relative importance to each other and the overall perception.


Ratings: To assess perceived attractiveness, crowdsourcing, a well-founded online method of studying aesthetic and reconstructive outcomes, was utilized. The photographs were uploaded to Google Forms with multiple-choice responses ranging from 1-7, with 1 and 7 being the least and most attractive, respectively. The images were presented in a random order to each respondent. Monochrome photos were used to negate the biases of hair, skin, and eye color.

Measurements: Our female and male cohorts each consisted of standardized frontal-view photos of 41 individuals, with 1 composite derived from the other 40. Composite images were generated using, which is a web-based software that specializes in averaging and transforming faces. Each face had the same number of standardized points placed manually to delineate the position of facial landmarks. The corresponding points allowed for averaging each facial landmark across all the faces to develop the composite. All photos were calibrated by interpupillary distance. Next, linear facial features (including measurements of the upper face, middle face, lower face, and facial height and width) were measured by pixels with Lastly, angular facial features were measured in degrees using Mirror software.

Statistical Analysis: A t-test was used to verify that the composite with average facial features was the most attractive in each cohort. After verifying that the average faces were most attractive, a Spearman correlation test calculated correlation coefficients between facial measurements and perceived attractiveness. A larger correlation coefficient indicates a stronger association between average facial measurements and perceived attractiveness. p<0.05 was considered significant.


For the male and female cohorts, the respondents (n=870 and 876, respectively) found the composites (derived from average facial anatomy) significantly more attractive than the rest of the cohort (both p<0.0001).

For the male cohort, only anthropometrically average upper lip height had a statistically significant correlation with attractiveness (Table 1) (R=0.376; p=0.017).

For the female cohort, only anthropometrically average bigonial width had a statistically significant correlation with attractiveness (R= 0.352; p=0.026).

Conclusion: Our study identifies average male lip height and average female bigonial features significantly correlated with perceived beauty. Though overall average faces were found to be significantly more attractive, the majority of facial features when independently analyzed for their correlation with beauty were not found to be significantly associated. Our findings suggest that the attractiveness of the average face is not largely due to the summative attractiveness of its individual facial components.