Is Facial Symmetry an Indicator of Good Health?

Facial symmetry has long been an indicator of attractiveness. Not only that, scientific beliefs also associates a symmetrical face signal health in childhood. Scientists believe that facial symmetry is a strong indicator in choosing our mate. We unconsciously associate a symmetric facial feature with healthy genes, embryonic development, worthiness of mating and freedom from disease.

This notion has been further strengthened by studies indicating that facial asymmetry in men has been linked with several health issues such as anxiety and depression. Women with asymmetric faces, on the other hand, are associated with emotional instability and poor health.

However, a recent study that appeared in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B journal found that facial symmetry is not necessarily a marker of health in childhood.

Facial Symmetry and Childhood Health: The Study

Researchers studied 4,732 teenagers, obtained their health history as well as determined their facial symmetry through a 3D scan.

The study involved collecting self-reported data from the subjects’ caregivers about the different illnesses that the child encountered as well as the symptoms involved. It includes medical conditions such as infections, rashes and aches. The questionnaires were distributed by the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children. This is for scientists to be able to obtain the participants’ medical history. Scores obtained from the health surveys were then compared with the face symmetry data obtained from the participants at age 15.

The results of the study found no significant association between facial symmetry and good health and childhood. However, the researchers found that there was a link between facial symmetry and high IQ levels in boy but not in girls. Male subjects with more symmetrical facial features were found to score higher in their IQ tests when they were eight years old. This indicates that high development outcomes are most likely to be seen among those with good facial symmetry.

Conclusion

Based on the study, facial symmetry is not a reliable determinant of childhood health. People with asymmetric features are not more likely to get sick than those with more symmetric features. However, very large variations in facial symmetry may possibly indicate genetic disorders or early developmental trauma.

The tendency of a person to pick a mate with more symmetrical facial features may possibly be due to the fact that asymmetry is perceived to create potential problems later on especially in the aspect of genetics and heredity.

Furthermore, facial symmetry is not all there is when it comes to choosing a mate or an ideal partner. The presence of an eccentric feature or peculiar characteristic in a person makes him or her more attractive.

It is a myth that persons with symmetric facial features are always healthy. Back in the days, it may hold true that facial symmetry is seen as a sign of attractiveness. However, time has evolved since then. The true measure of attractiveness has now changed to include the non-conventional.

Photo credit:  steven.buss on Flickr



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