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September 28th, 2006 at 8:19 am

Beauty is Only Brain Deep

When someone is "easy on the eye," it could also be because they are easy on the brain, according to a new international study. Scientists from universities in the United States and New Zealand analyzed previous studies and conducted new research to find that attractiveness could be linked to ease of mental processing.

The study, published in the journal Psychological Science, looked at previous research that found people rated images of standard-looking objects or people as more attractive than variations of these things.

They also tested people by showing them a prototype image made up of dots and geometric patterns and variations of it to see which people liked the most.

Piotr Winkielman of the University of California, San Diego, who led the research, said the less time it took to classify a pattern, the more attractive it was judged.

"We show that this preference for the prototype is a function of the prototype being particularly easy to perceive," Winkielman told Reuters on Tuesday. "So the easier the better."

Winkielman pointed out that this "beauty in averageness" could apply to things like the silhouette of a car, a watch, as well as to people.

"You can even get it for the taste of chili," he said.

"An anecdote was reported in the paper that some guy won a chili cooking contest by basically going around to various competitors and putting a spoon of chili into his own pot and eventually he found the perfect, well balanced flavor."

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