Round 1 Science of Beauty
How does the brain decide what is beautiful?
Some say "beauty is in the eye of the beholder”
What are we looking at? What do we really see?
According to wikipedia “Beauty" is an experience that often involves an interpretation of some entity as being in balance and harmony with nature, which may lead to feelings of attraction and emotional well-being.
Anjan Chatter , a cognitive neuroscientist explored studies of how the brain responds to characteristics associated with beauty. Experiments have indicated that 3 elements contribute to making a face attractive. These include averaging, symmetry and the effects of hormones.
The chemistry of beauty involves both the hormones that contribute to facial attractiveness and the chemical response by the brain
A Procreation Perspective
Estrogen and testosterone play important roles in shaping features that we find attractive. Estrogen produces features that are feminine and signal fertility and maturity. Testosterone produces features that are more masculine signaling health and vitality.
Reward behavior pathways of the brain
Our visual brain processes faces and interacts with our pleasure centres to underpin the experience of beauty. The brain responds to beauty by linking vision with pleasure followed by the production and release of dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter, a chemical messenger that is referred to as “ motivational molecule” . This reward provides drive and focus on what is pleasurable. reinforcing that beauty is good.
You find Who attractive????
Beauty can be found in different ways with different relationships with different motives.
Katherine Wu a student from Harvard University offers insight into attraction by asking what is love. Her findings show Love can be distilled into three categories: Lust, attraction and attachment. Each type is characterized by its own set of hormones.
Lust: Testosterone and Estrogen
Lust is driven by the desire for sexual gratification, stemming from an evolutionary need to reproduce.
Attraction: Dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin
Attraction involves the brain reward behavior pathways, releasing dopamine and serotonin in the initial attraction. Then Norepinephrine and dopamine are released during the attraction where one can feel energetic and euphoric.
Attachment: Oxytocin and vasopressin
Attachment is related to long term relationships such as romantic relationships, friendships, parent - infant bonding. Oxytocin and vasopressin hormones are released at events that are precursors to bonding and increases a sense of empathy. During sex, breastfeeding and childbirth are examples of event when high amounts of oxytocin can be produced and released. The release of these hormones are associated with bonding rather than pleasure of the experience.
In the end beauty is still in the eye of the beholder.
But we need to also understand that the beholder has hormones that heighten their experience of beauty within different relationships, with different motives which may still be influenced by both cultural bias and media distortions. It is clear however that hormons have a key role in how we experience beauty.
Thank you Lauren for your insight on my inquiry question and some references on the impact of self esteem or self love on the perception of beauty and the experience of beauty.
I have desided to do my next round on the impact of self love and self esteem on the experience of beauty. The following are some of the resources I will be reviewing.