Facial skin color influences the perceived health and attractiveness of Caucasian faces, and has been proposed as a valid cue to aspects of physiological health. Similar preferences for skin color have previously been found in African participants, while different preferences have been found among mainland Chinese participants. Here, we asked Malaysian Chinese participants (ethnic Chinese living in an Asian country with high levels of exposure to Western culture) to manipulate the skin color of Malaysian Chinese, Caucasian, and African faces to make them "look as healthy as possible." Participants chose to increase skin yellowness to a greater extent than to increase skin redness to optimize healthy appearance. The slight reduction in skin lightness chosen was not statistically significant after correction for multiple comparisons. While broadly in line with the preferences of Caucasian and African participants from previous studies, this differs from mainland Chinese participants. There may be a role for culture in skin color preferences, though methodological differences mean that further research is necessary to identify the cause of these differences in preferences.
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- face perception
- skin color
- perceived health
- culture difference