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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Beautiful Far Beyond Average

Mother Teresa of Calcutta
In a study conducted by researcher Judith Lanlois and a colleague at the University of Texas at Austin some time ago, she found that when it comes to faces, the more "average" someone’s features, the more attractive they are judged to be. The bad news is that few of us are exactly average in the way her study suggests.

Lanlois used a computer to construct faces that were a blend of several dozen people in a way that created an average of such features as nose length, chin prominence, and the size and shape of the forehead and mouth. The more faces that went into the composite, the more the result represented the average population of male or female college students from which they were drawn.

When other students then judged the attractiveness of the composites and then of the individual faces, without being told which was which, they invariably found the composites to be more attractive than the real individual faces that went into them. An interesting find.

I once gave some high school students in a religion class the assignment of bringing me a picture of a face they thought might do for the face of Jesus if he were to appear as a human being today. I got quite an interesting assortment, ranging from pictures of handsome movie stars to those of average American males of various races.

The picture that really got my attention, however, was the wrinkled and aging face of Mother Teresa, taken from the cover of Time magazine. What better image to represent what a modern Jesus might look like?

Beautiful way beyond average.
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