英伦广角British Vision(100):科学面相法

Can you tell who's up for it?

Two of the faces below are up for casual sex, the other two want a long-term relationship. Can you tell which is which?

Now, if you are going out on a pool tonight, pay attention to this. Psychologists think they’ve identified facial characteristics that betray whether someone is up for casual sex or searching for a longer term relationship.

The art of romance: candle-lit dinners, red roses, chocolates. Forget it. I can tell from your face that you are only after one thing. That's just a bit of exaggeration, but researchers claimed to have proved that desire for a long term relationship or casual sex is written on your face. These pictures are composites made by the researchers. The faces on the right are made up from those people who said they were up for casual sex; those on the left are those who said they're only after a long-term relationship. Researchers tested several different pairs of faces. They found women, no surprise there, could recognize and were much keener on the faces of the men who wanted a long-term relationship. Men, though, apparently could recognize, and preferred, the faces of women who were up for casual sex. Sex sells, but is this sort of headline-grabbing stuff what science should be about?

I think there is a problem when people read something, and hear about research that proposes to tell you something that clearly doesn’t , everyone knows that they don’t choose upon based on the shape of their face. People have a tendency then to shrug their shoulders and say, well, look at science, it proves everything, whatever will come up next. I think that’s very harmful to the reputation of science, as a tool of investigation.

Frank Swain, from Sense About Science. So if you're looking at my face now, you may find it’s betraying signs of skepticism, but I am joined from Gateshead by Dr Lynda Boothroyd of Durham University, who can, I am sure, explain all.

Doctor Boothroyd, in a nutshell, what does your research show? Um, really for me, in terms of my research it’s all about when we do a lot of research into what kind of faces people find attractive, what kind of behaviors might those faces really be indicating. We’ve done so much on what people think, for instance masculine men might be like his partners. And what we've been able to show now is that some other perceptions we've had are actually possibly true that for instance more masculine men might actually be more open to short term relationships rather than long, and it's because why women tend to only prefer masculine men at certain times of the month, and perhaps when they are most interested in the short-term relationship.

I mean, in the past as I understand that the main way that we've been able to tell these things as far as we know scientifically is through body language in the way that people behave. But you, you have actually concentrated specifically on how faces are made up. But surely, surely, people can change their attitudes. I mean, there, there must be occasions in people's lives, presumably when they are open to casual sex and when they are not, their faces are up to change.

No, I think ,what the thing we can do with the face that we can’t do with other things is that it's a really useful medium for manipulating certain things that we know might be correlated with, for instance hormone levels. So a lot of what we do again, involving facial masculinity is hopefully indicating the way which women are sensitive to and response to physical indicators of male testosterone . Male testosterone we know is important in certain kinds of behaviors such as sex drive. And because we know that women should over the millennium have become quite sensitive to whether a guy is likely to be someone who wants, you know, long term commitment or not. We can use the face and the facial indicators of testosterone to really look at that. Now if you really want to look at the body language, it' harder...

It's always, of course quite difficult to assume we 've actually learned from our experiences in this regard, but when it comes, but when it comes to man, I mean, you seem to be saying that face feature actually corresponds personalities. But isn't that a bit like, you know the Victoria Ages, looks like phrenology, isn’t it? Say your head is shaped in this way, therefore you must behave like this.

Yeah, I think we are not trying to be that prescriptive, like you have said, certain key features are related both to hormone levels, and those hormone levels are then related to behaviors. Then what we think is possibly happening is over a course of time, people are picking up on very subtle correlations in a social environment. And that they are using that in their judgments, but of course when you actually think about real life interactions, yes, body language is important, what people say is important, really we're looking at the face as one particular aspect the way things go. And in terms of the personality traits change, they absolutely do. so, so.. Dr, Dr, sadly, we gonna have to leave it there, but thank you very much for sharing your views.

Yeah, OK.

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