Beauty, Biology, and Society Essay

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Beauty, Biology, and Society

What is beauty? How do human beings decide who is attractive and who is not? Society is full of messages telling us what is beautiful, but what are those definitions based on? Do we consciously decide whom we are attracted to, or is biology somehow involved? The issue of beauty and how we define it has been studied for centuries. Scholars from all fields of study have searched for the "formula" for beauty. Darwin in his book The Descent of Man wrote, "It is certainly not true that there is in the mind of man any universal standard of beauty with respect to the human body. It is however, possible that certain tastes in the course of time become inherited, though I have no evidence in favor of this belief."
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((1)Through an analysis of the human face they have determined that symmetry is involved. The human face is designed symmetrically. While there are variations, in general the human face is symmetric in design. (2) Because the tendency towards symmetry is a dominant trend in physical structure, humans tend to look for symmetry in each other. This desire is often times unconscious. The Golden Ratio, also known as the Phi Ratio, defines human facial structure as following a symmetrical ratio of 1:1.618. (1) Another factor involved in attractiveness is scent and more specifically pheromones. (4) While the intake of human scent may be unconscious is seems to have a positive impact on beauty as well. Pheromones are unconscious indicators that the human body releases. In a study conducted by Anja Rikowski and Karl Grammer the relationship between physical symmetry and scent was conducted. Through the experiment it was determined that individuals with a high level of facial symmetry, also give off high levels of pheromones. (2)

Why are symmetry and scent so important? What does the Golden Ratio and pheromones tell us about the science of beauty? In a biological sense beauty and physical attractiveness, serve the purpose of reproduction. Humans have the innate desire to want to reproduce, and more specifically pass on their genes. (3) Attractiveness aids the reproduction process by helping humans find partners. The physical features of a person are

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