New research suggests reasons some types of faces are easier on the eye and for the brain to process.
‘Beauty is in the efficient coding of the beholder’ as published in the journal Royal Society Open Science, also appearing on a Mind blog; researchers say that the reason could be that the brain has a preference for looking at things which are easier to encode.
Some men were given a set of pictures of women to look and rank, authors noted that those ranked higher were women with plain faces.
Additional observations made by the authors are as follows:
“Sparseness was found [to be] positively correlated with attractiveness as rated by men and explained up to 17% of variance in attractiveness.
Our results show that female faces which are rated the most attractive by men should be the most sparsely coded by the primary visual cortex of these men.”
We evidenced that faces coded sparsely by the primary visual cortex V1 are more attractive. The primary visual cortex is a generalist brain region that has been shaped through natural selection and development to process the complex statistics of natural scenes, not to perform a specific task like identifying faces or evaluating their attractiveness.
So, we tend to find plain faces more attractive because the brain can easily process and store them.