Familiarity with own population's appearance influences facial preferences

Carlota Batres, Mallini Kannan, David Ian Perrett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Previous studies have found that, in Malaysia and in El Salvador, individuals from rural areas prefer heavier women than individuals from urban areas. Several explanations have been proposed to explain these differences in weight preferences but no study has explored familiarity as a possible explanation. We therefore sought to investigate participants’ face preferences while also examining the facial characteristics of the actual participants. Our results showed that, in both Malaysia and in El Salvador, participants from rural areas preferred heavier-looking female faces than participants from urban areas. Additionally, we found that the female faces from the rural areas were rated as looking heavier than the female faces from the urban areas. Our findings are consistent with the hypothesis that familiarity may be contributing to the differences found in face preferences between rural and urban areas given that people from rural and urban areas are exposed to different faces.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)344-354
JournalHuman Nature
Issue number3
Early online date18 May 2017
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2017


  • Preferences
  • Faces
  • Adiposity
  • Familiarity
  • Cross-cultural


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