Much is known about the attractiveness of physical attributes, such as symmetry and averageness. Here we examine the effect of a social cue, eye-gaze direction, on facial attractiveness. Given that direct gaze signals social engagement, we predicted that faces showing direct gaze would be preferred to faces showing averted gaze. Thirty-two males completed two tasks designed to assess preferences for female faces displaying a neutral expression. Participants were more likely to select the face with direct gaze, when choosing the more attractive face from direct - and averted-gaze versions of the same face. This direct-gaze preference was stronger for high-attractive than low-attractive face sets, but was present for both. Attractiveness ratings were also higher for faces with direct than averted gaze. Interestingly, stimulus inversion weakened the preference for inverted faces, which suggests the preference does not simply reflect a bilateral symmetry bias.
- eye-gaze direction