Intelligence and attractiveness in the face: Beyond the attractiveness halo effect

F. Moore*, D. Filippou, D. Perrett

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


Positive relationships between perceived intelligence, actual intelligence and facial attractiveness have been attributed to (a) an attractiveness halo effect in which attractive individuals are attributed with positive personality traits and (b) a "good genes" model of mate choice. We sought to determine whether cues to intelligence exist in the face beyond an attractiveness halo effect and to explore relationships between residual cues to intelligence and personality attributions in male and female faces. In Study 1, we attempted to parametrically manipulate the perceived intelligence of faces while controlling for attractiveness. Results demonstrated that we manipulated perceived intelligence but may not have adequately controlled for an attractiveness halo effect: faces that were manipulated to look high in perceived intelligence were rated as more attractive. In Study 2, we found perceived intelligence to be related positively to perceived friendliness and sense of humour in male and female faces and inversely to perceived dominance in female faces. Results are discussed in the context of models of "good genes" and "attractiveness halo" models of the relationships between intelligence and attractiveness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)205-217
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Evolutionary Psychology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2011


  • facial attractiveness
  • good genes
  • halo effect
  • intelligence


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