Friends, siblings and spouses are more likely to agree on the attractiveness of your face than strangers, says a study.
The study, led by led by Richard Russell, a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Psychology in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University, and Matthew Bronstad a postdoctoral researcher at the Schepens Eye Research Institute, an affiliate of Harvard Medical School, found that there was some agreement regarding facial attractiveness among the strangers but the close relations were in even greater agreement.
"While there are some universal standards of beauty, this study shows that perception and standards of attractiveness are more likely to be shared among individuals who know each other well," Russell said.
In the study, 113 participants were asked to rate 74 faces on a scale from one to seven, from very attractive to very unattractive.
Among the participants were 20 pairs of spouses, 20 pairs of siblings and 41 pairs of close friends.
Each of the pairs completed the test separately, so that they could not influence each other's ratings. Participants who were part of a pair of close relations were also paired with another individual who they had not met, in order to form a pair of strangers.
After analysing the ratings, the researchers found that while the strangers' ratings of the faces were often similar the ratings of the spouses, siblings and close friends were markedly more in agreement.
This study narrows the focus of preferences for beauty within even smaller groups: individuals who know each other well and have personal relationships.
The researchers speculated that this greater agreement among close relations could stem from several different causes.
One could be the number of years that the pairs of people spent in daily contact were related to the strength of their agreement on facial attractiveness. This could be because those individuals who spent a great deal amount of time together saw many of the same faces on a day-to-day basis.
"Because close relations know and see many of the same people, their visual 'diet' of faces has been similar. It's likely that repeated visual exposure to the same faces could have an effect on their perception of what makes a face attractive," Bronstad said.
The study appears in the current issue of the journal Perception.