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A study has found that facial contrast is a major factor in one’s perception of a person’s age.
A group of French and American researchers hypothesized that the correlation between facial contrast and aging remains the same across different ethnicities.
To test this hypothesis, the researchers analyzed images of women aged 20 to 80 of different ethnicities, such as Chinese Asians, Latin Americans, and French Caucasians, using a computer software to measure different facial contrast indicators. Facial contrast pertains to how much the eyes, lips, and eyebrows stand out based on how light, dark, or pigmented they are.
Findings showed that despite some minor differences, certain factors involved in facial contrast declined with age across the four groups of female subjects. For instance, contrast around the mouth and eyebrows were found to decrease in the older women.
The study also determined whether or not people from different cultures use the same signals when perceiving one’s age. French and Chinese male and female volunteers were shown two computer-generated photographs of women from the same ethnic groups: the first with a high contrast and the second with a low contrast. The volunteers unconsciously perceived the photo with a high facial contrast as young 80% of the time.
Aside from facial contrast, facial symmetry and its implications on people’s perceptions have also been explored. A study revealed that people with symmetrical faces are intuitively perceived as more attractive than those with subtly asymmetrical faces. This implies that faces are considered attractive when their left and right sides are parallel or mirror each other.