The current study conceptualizes facial attractiveness as a dual-process judgment, combining sexual and aesthetic value. We hypothesized that holistic face processing is more integral to perceiving aesthetic preference and feature-based processing is more integral to sexual preference. In order to manipulate holistic versus feature-based processing, we used a variation of the composite face paradigm. Previous work indicates that slightly shifting the top from the bottom half of a face disrupts holistic processing and enhances feature-based processing. In the present study, while nonsexual judgments best explained facial attraction in whole-face images, a reversal occurred for split-face images such that sexual judgments best explained facial attraction, but only for mate-relevant faces (i.e., other-sex). These findings indicate that disrupting holistic processing can decouple sexual from nonsexual judgments of facial attraction, thereby establishing the presence of a dual-process.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Social Psychology
- Sociology and Political Science