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      Mechanisms for the Cognitive Processing of Attractiveness in Adult and Infant Faces: From the Evolutionary Perspective

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          Abstract

          Research on the cognitive processing of facial attractiveness has mainly focused on adult faces. Recent studies have revealed that the cognitive processing of facial attractiveness in infant faces is not the same as that in adult faces. Therefore, it is necessary to summarize the evidence on the processing of facial attractiveness in each kind of face and compare their underlying mechanisms. In this paper, we first reviewed studies on the cognitive processing of facial attractiveness in adult faces, including attentional and mnemonic processing, and then discussed the underlying mechanisms. Afterward, studies on facial attractiveness in infant faces were reviewed, and the underlying mechanisms were also discussed. Direct comparisons between the two kinds of cognitive processing were subsequently made. The results showed that the mechanisms for the processing of attractiveness in adult faces and infant faces are mainly motivated by the perspectives of mate selection and raising offspring, respectively, in evolutionary psychology. Finally, directions for future research are proposed.

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          Most cited references 73

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          Beautiful faces have variable reward value: fMRI and behavioral evidence.

          The brain circuitry processing rewarding and aversive stimuli is hypothesized to be at the core of motivated behavior. In this study, discrete categories of beautiful faces are shown to have differing reward values and to differentially activate reward circuitry in human subjects. In particular, young heterosexual males rate pictures of beautiful males and females as attractive, but exert effort via a keypress procedure only to view pictures of attractive females. Functional magnetic resonance imaging at 3 T shows that passive viewing of beautiful female faces activates reward circuitry, in particular the nucleus accumbens. An extended set of subcortical and paralimbic reward regions also appear to follow aspects of the keypress rather than the rating procedures, suggesting that reward circuitry function does not include aesthetic assessment.
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            Reward value of attractiveness and gaze.

            Faces are visual objects in our environment that provide strong social cues, with the eyes assuming particular importance. Here we show that the perceived attractiveness of an unfamiliar face increases brain activity in the ventral striatum of the viewer when meeting the person's eye, and decreases activity when eye gaze is directed away. Depending on the direction of gaze, attractiveness can thus activate dopaminergic regions that are strongly linked to reward prediction, indicating that central reward systems may be engaged during the initiation of social interactions.
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              Can't take my eyes off you: Attentional adhesion to mates and rivals.

              In 3 experiments, mating primes interacted with functionally relevant individual differences to guide basic, lower order social perception. A visual cuing method assessed biases in attentional adhesion--a tendency to have one's attention captured by particular social stimuli. Mate-search primes increased attentional adhesion to physically attractive members of the opposite sex (potential mates) among participants with an unrestricted sociosexual orientation but not among sexually restricted participants (Studies 1 and 2). A mate-guarding prime increased attentional adhesion to physically attractive members of one's own sex (potential rivals) among participants who were concerned with threats posed by intrasexual competitors but not among those less concerned about such threats (Study 3). Findings are consistent with a functionalist approach to motivation and social cognition and highlight the utility of integrating evolutionary and social cognitive perspectives. (c) 2007 APA, all rights reserved
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Journal
                Front Psychol
                Front Psychol
                Front. Psychol.
                Frontiers in Psychology
                Frontiers Media S.A.
                1664-1078
                11 March 2020
                2020
                : 11
                Affiliations
                1Center for Mental Health Research in School of Management, Zunyi Medical University , Guizhou, China
                2School of Criminal Justice, China University of Political Science and Law , Beijing, China
                Author notes

                Edited by: Lin Zhang, Ningbo University, China

                Reviewed by: Lijun Yin, Sun Yat-sen University, China; Yan Zhang, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, China

                *Correspondence: Taiyong Bi, bitaiyong@ 123456126.com

                This article was submitted to Evolutionary Psychology, a section of the journal Frontiers in Psychology

                Article
                10.3389/fpsyg.2020.00436
                7078348
                Copyright © 2020 Kou, Xie and Bi.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

                Page count
                Figures: 0, Tables: 0, Equations: 0, References: 102, Pages: 9, Words: 0
                Categories
                Psychology
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