The group attractiveness effect refers to when the rated attractiveness of a group of people is greater than the average attractiveness of the group’s members. Two theories have been proposed to explain this phenomenon: selective attention, and the creation of a group-face. From an evolutionary standpoint, it is adaptive for people to selectively attend to the most attractive members in a group, which provides an evaluation of group attractiveness based on a weighted, as opposed to arithmetic, average. When people perceive a group of faces, they use their peripheral vision to gain general information about stimuli outside of their direct gaze. By blending general features from their peripheral gaze into specific perceptions from their foveal gaze, people implicitly create a single group-face that combines the characteristics of all members in a group. Imperfections in the faces are normalized as features are pooled from the entire group, which is why the group-face is more attractive than the average rated attractiveness of the individuals. Using eye-tracking technology I, examined how selective attention and group-face worked independently as well as in tandem to impact the group attractiveness effect by manipulating use of foveal and peripheral gaze. I was able to replicate the group attractiveness effect as suggested in previous findings, however I was not able to make significant conclusions about the role selective attention and group-face play in this effect.
Merrell, Wilson, "Selective attention, group-face, or both? Examining the group attractiveness effect through eye-tracking" (2016). Psychology Honors Projects. 47.
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