The Role of Beauty in Humans

Beauty is commonly defined as an intangible quality of tangible things which makes these things pleasant to perceive. Such things as landscapes, sunsets, beautiful humans and creative works of art are considered as beauty. Beauty, along with aesthetic sense and art, is the most important theme of aesthetics, among the various branches of science.

Beauty has been found to be measured in different ways. Some researchers correlate beauty with brain functions. Others use facial expressions, skin color, body size, muscle tone and hair length as cues for rating beauty. While there may be some truth in these claims, beauty cannot be easily defined using brain functions alone.

In recent years, the idea of bodily beauty gained much popularity. Physical attractiveness is primarily determined by genetic and physiological factors. Therefore, it can be said that beauty is largely a product of genes (in humans) and the environment (in animals). It has been found that there are several areas on the human body that are highly activated during emotional states: the amygdala, orbitoframia and the periaqueductal grey matter. The human body areas activated during emotional states which are highly related to beauty include the facial cortex, the orbital cortex and the periaqueductal grey matter.

Another region of the brain that has been associated with beauty is the nucleus accumbens. The nucleus accumbens receives positive inputs from multiple areas of the brain and it is activated during many different emotional states. While this region of the brain does not make actual facial or body movements, it does participate in other kinds of facial expressions. For instance, when a person is happy, his brain areas activated during facial movements will also be activated in his nucleus accumbens. The relationship between the human beauty judgment and the function of the human brain was discovered during a study conducted on children. The study found that the activity of the nucleus accumbens was predictive of children’s later educational success.

Beauty as we perceive it may be either adaptive or maladaptive; depending on whether it is positively or negatively regulated by our reproductive system. Individuals who are highly attractive are generally perceived as more desirable than their less attractive counterparts. Beauty as we perceive is thus not just about physical appearance but is also a matter of perception and therefore of psychology.

It is important to keep in mind that beauty is an innate aspect of our psychology. Thus, individuals who consider themselves as very unattractive will find ways and means to work on the negative stereotypes that they hold about beauty. As a result, some people who are considered to be very beautiful may turn out to be rather ugly individuals. A simple way to deal with the negative stereotypes is to develop one’s own beauty image that is independent of societal and cultural influences. It is also very important to keep in mind that all human beings have the ability to be attractive or unattractive, irrespective of race, age, or gender. Therefore, it does not matter what race you belong to beauty is a factor of your own personal choice.