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.