Practice English Speaking&Listening with: Facial Symmetry and Asymmetry | What Makes A Face Attractive Ep. 8

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In the Evolutionary Psychology of Facial Beauty by Gillian Rhodes, a paper thats cited

on the channel all the time, symmetry, averageness and sexual dimorphism are the three big indicators

of attractiveness. In the defining beauty / what makes a face attractive series, the

episodes put out so far talk cover justof this attractiveness trifecta, the averageness

part. They discuss what the ideal values are by different races, genders and cephalometric

regions and while well continue putting out more videos on different parts of the

face, its important to not neglect the other 2 important aspects to beauty.

The idea goes that symmetry indicates mate quality and strong genetic health. In her

paper Rhodes cites that the likelihood of asymmetries in human bodies occuring increase

with inbreeding, premature birth, psychosis and mental retardation[a]. Further studies[b]

from the late 20th century show that artificially making faces symmetric increases their attractiveness

although their facial features remain the same. On the other hand, asymmetry is equally

undesirable in animals. Theres many biological reasons from a loss of genetic variance to

heterozygosity but let's just say if a bird is born with asymmetrical wings, itll die

very quickly to natural selection. This type of example is due to fluctuating asymmetry

as its individual specific.

Its important to distinguish between the two types of symmetry:

Fluctuating refers to random deviations from perfect symmetry, e.g. nemo with his deformed

flipper would die real quick if it wasnt a disney movie.

Directional symmetry is where there is a bias towards one side, e.g. left and right handedness

with 85% being right handed. Directional symmetry can be consistent across an entire population

and so it doesnt signal mate quality since everyone is the same and our perceptions adapt

to where it becomes unnoticeable[c] unlike fluctuating.

Its worth noting that In Symmetry and Human Facial Attractiveness by Perrett and colleagues

it states that some degree of asymmetry may actually be desirable to make the individual

more expressive. During speech 76% make greater right handed gestures than left. Likewise

Wylie and Goodale 1988 found that spontaneous facial expressions are more asymmetric than

posed ones, but somehow found more attractive. Its sort of like how raising one eyebrow

is seductive but raise both and you look like a surprised barn owl.

Perfect symmetry is near impossible to achieve. A small degree of bilateral asymmetry is to

be expected on every face, even our brains are asymmetric with left and right handedness.

It only becomes a problem when its blatantly noticeable. Research by Peck Et[d] al found

that asymmetry is greatest in the jaw, so the lower third and least in the cranium or

the upper third. Another study by Severt and Proffit[e] recorded that only 5% of asymmetry

cases were found in the upper third, 36% in the midface and 75% in the lower third. Why

is that?

One hypothesis that Id like to throw out there, is that our dentofacial growth is somewhat

determined by our diets. This was also the conclusion of Canadian dentist, Dr Weston

Price, who compiled numerous data on how soft, Western diets lead to misaligned tooth eruption.

Could it be that the most kinetically active part of our face, the jaw, is most prone to

asymmetry because its dependent on so many factors for proper growth. The side you predominantly

chew your food on will have more developed masseter muscles than your weaker side, thats

a common asymmetry. Conversely, the cranium just grows outwards, free from constant movement

or external force so its much less prone to asymmetry. The midface is intermediate

because it contains a lot of complex soft tissue structures like the eyes and nose so

its easy to imagine how the cells might mess up duplication although theyre under

a lot less physical stress unlike the jaw. But again, this is just my own personal conjecture.

In 1997 Moller and Thornhill found a weak but significant correlation regarding the

heritability of asymmetry, but its still a hotly disputed topic. If asymmetry is truly

heritable, then this theory Ive proposed goes out the window and you should just pick

new parents next time.

Although the causes of asymmetry are endless, clinical scientists can break them up into

three categories:

* Malformations: a morphological (shape) related defect resulting from an abnormal development

process * Deformation: a defect caused by getting

punched in the face by sonny liston * Disruption: morphological defect caused

by a breakdown in the development process

The most common way of assessing symmetry is with a bilateral flip where you take a

face, cut it down the facial midline, typically the philtrum and compare the two sides but

if youve ever tried this for yourself with enough faces youll notice a few weaknesses

in this method. Going back to G. Rhodes, she calls out these limitations too and I paraphrase,

in taking a hemispherical flip of a face, a very slight tilt of the head or a slight

deviation from the front on view amplifies the asymmetry in the resulting chimera image.

In other words, images appear abnormally wide or narrow and this greatly affects attractiveness


A better way is to blend the original face with the flipped face to offset any angle

or tilt errors in the original image which is how we now do it for every QOVES facial


In the Perrett study I mentioned earlier, they use a third method where they physically

straighten asymmetries using the 1999 equivalent of the liquify tool. Figures c) and d) are

the midline flips (chimera) while b) is the new method of manually adjusting 224 facial

points for perfect symmetry.

There isnt really much to say with bilateral symmetry. Its either noticeable or it isn't.

Generally the most noticeable asymmetries are in the eyes as we obviously look at that

first on a face. This is seen as a deviation in the canthal tilt or the eyelid contour

where ptosis causes the upper eyelid to droop lower than the other. From what Ive seen,

the lower eyelid doesnt seem to be as asymmetric as the upper.

After the eyes we look to the nose because its also a large, salient part of the face.

In terms of bilateral asymmetry its usually in the nasal bridge where most people have

a crooked nose bridge thats noticeable because the nose is dead center on the facial

midline. The nose base and nose tip arent as common because theyre smaller in the

case of the tip or further from the line in the case of the nose alars.

When assessing symmetry, especially for the nose and eyes its best to use whats

known as transverse symmetry where horizontal reference lines are drawn to assess how well

facial features are spatially related. Ideally, on a well formed face transverse lines should

be horizontal to the occlusal plane. The occlusal plane is the imaginary plane made by your

upper and jaw coming together at rest. If for whatever reason the maxilla or mandible

is rotated or tilted this plane very clearly tilts too and is no longer parallel to the

interpupillary line. When this happens its called canting in dentistry and its clear

to see from both views how it causes a noticeable asymmetry, even if you keep your lips sealed.

This is just the tip of the iceburg but theres numerous similar asymmetries, the majority

of which occur in the jaw and lower third. Here is an example of lateral mandibular displacement

where the lower jaw is very clearly misalligned and Chin asymmetry, where the jaw is aligned

but the chin isnt.

For the majority of the people watching, these more serious cosmetic and dentofacial defects

likely wont apply to you. In all of the facial reports the QOVES team has done so

far I dont recall ever seeing any of these asymmetries weve just gone over.

These more serious defects create underlying biomechanical issues and so theyre corrected

early on in the interest of health.

Although we know asymmetry is undesirable for attraction, science has been unable to

properly quantify what types of asymmetries are worse. Is a crooked nose worse than a

malformed jaw? Is a case of ptosis worse for aesthetics than a maxillary cant? In 1993

Jones and Hill tried to quantify fluctuating asymmetry but produced a limited test of only

6 traits. Also it lacked repeatability so its virtually unusable, but it did create

a foundation to jump off of. Grammar and Thornhill in 1994 devised a method by summing the offset

of asymmetrical facial features from the facial midline.

For most people, asymmetry is actually quite easy to correct. Fillers can help produce

a more even facial contour for example Botox in the eyebrows or forehead can raise one

side to appear even. Another method is with a rhinoplasty to straighten the nasal bridge,

which is one of the more noticeable asymmetries. As for the jaw, if its an underlying dentofacial

alignment issue, implants arent going to do you much good but if its a case of weak

growth, then implants can go very far in correcting asymmetry, especially since theyre 3-D

printed to the clients needs.

And with that, we bring this episode to a close. Hopefully you learned something, the

idea is to make longer 10 minute videos moving forward to explore the concepts in greater

depth and clear up confusion. If you want us to test your facial symmetry and many other

proportions, be sure to check out the QOVES facial report. All of the behind the scenes

for our content is available at Patreon and lastly follow the QOVES Studio Instagram page.

Its being revived with fresh content and daily uploads. A lot of different testing

with Marquardt masks, other proportion masks, proportion lines and symmetry so we need your

feedback on what edits look attractive to improve our algorithm for Photoshopping faces.

The Description of Facial Symmetry and Asymmetry | What Makes A Face Attractive Ep. 8