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Abstract

A substantial number of studies indicate that human facial features such as symmetry and averageness are preferred in human mate choice. Little is known, however, about face preferences in intrapopulation or between-cultural settings as only a few studies have addressed this topic. One hypothesis is that people prefer faces that resemble faces from their own population as a result of visual adaptation. Here, we present results of an internet-based experiment in which male and female participants from two European nations, Poland and Scotland, were asked to choose between ‘Polish-modified’ and ‘Scottish-modified’ faces (i.e. face portraits modified along one of ten different dimensions to resemble faces of the respective populations) of both sexes while being unaware of the origins of the portraits. The results show that the preferences of Polish judges for Polish-shaped faces were significantly stronger than the preferences of Scottish judges for the Scottish-shaped faces. Moreover, both Polish and Scottish judges preferred Polish-shaped faces to Scottish-shaped faces. These results suggest that natural visual experience acquired in everyday interpersonal interactions may have limited influence on aesthetic preferences in these particular intrapopulation settings.