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Is an Objective Measuring System for Facial Attractiveness Possible?

by Mounir Bashour, MD, CM, PhD, FRCSC, FACS

Paperback e-Book PDF
Institution: University of Toronto
Advisor(s): Dr. Hans Kunov
Degree: PhD
Year: 2005
Volume: 291 pages
ISBN-10: 1581123655
ISBN-13: 9781581123654


There exists a need for the creation of an objective system for measuring facial attractiveness and along with it a detailed mathematical analysis and understanding of facial sexual dimorphism. Both the areas of ophthalmic and facial plastic and reconstructive surgery and the areas of facial attractiveness and recognition research in psychology would greatly benefit from achieving these goals. The objective of this work has been to: develop and test a system for measuring facial attractiveness in an objective manner; and analyze orbital and facial sexual dimorphism.

A facial overlay system or mask variously called the phi, archetypal, golden, or golden ratio mask has been claimed to be capable of being adapted to create an objective system for measuring facial attractiveness. The central hypothesis of the thesis is that the phi mask can be used to create an objective measurement system for facial attractiveness.

Over a period of seven years, we have created a standardized high resolution photographic facial database of 18-30 year old male and female adults, as well as database of linked facial anthropometric and photogrammetric measurement data. We have also designed a system using the phi mask that attempts to measure facial attractiveness objectively, and tested it against our facial database. Finally, we have made a detailed analysis of the measurement data and previous literature with respect to precisely defining sexual dimorphism around the eyes and face.

Results support our central hypothesis in that the phi mask in its current form does yield a measure for objective attractiveness that correlates to the current “gold standard” measure of attractiveness – ‘truth of consensus’. However, while the mask is capable of explaining a major portion of the variance in facial attractiveness, it is not the final complete answer. Strengths, weaknesses and limitations of the approach and the model used are discussed, and ideas and directions for further research to develop a more accurate system are suggested.

The analysis of the orbits and the face for sexual dimorphism yielded a great deal of new data and have lead to an understanding of sexual differences that have practical implications for both surgery and further facial research.

Applications of the research include: Preoperative aids for planning plastic and reconstructive surgery, cosmetic surgery, and sex-altering surgery; standards for analyzing the eyes for academic study; standards for quantifying the features of the eyes for use in an identification system; aid in application of cosmetics; aid in understanding the psychological impact of eyes on the judgment of attractiveness; creation of a standardized database of digital high-resolution facial photographs and linked anthropometric and demographic database to be made available to the world community of facial researchers; use of the databases by researchers for face recognition research, facial attractiveness research etc.

About The Author

Dr. Mounir Bashour is a graduate of many of the world's top universities, including Johns Hopkins University, McGill University, New York Medical College, George Washington University, and the University of Toronto. He is a renowned Ophthalmologist and Facial Plastic Surgeon, and one of the world's most experienced Refractive surgeons having performed 50,000 LASIK and PRK procedures. Dr. Bashour is one of the only ophthalmologists in the world to have completed three post-doctoral fellowships: the prestigious American Society of Ophthalmic Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery fellowship in Oculoplastics at the University of Toronto, as well as Pediatric Ophthalmology and a Refractive Surgery fellowships at McGill University. He is a fellow/member of the Royal College of Surgeons of Canada, the Canadian Ophthalmology Society, the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the International Society of Refractive Surgery, the American, Canadian and European Societies of Cataract and Refractive Surgery, the American and European Societies of Ophthalmic, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and the American and International College of Surgeons.

In addition to all of his clinical accomplishments Dr. Bashour is heavily involved in research and development, publishing numerous papers and book chapters and being an invited lecturer at many international and national meetings. Outside of Ophthalmology, Dr. Bashour is also a PhD in Biomedical Engineering and one of the foremost experts in the study of facial attractiveness. He spent over eight years of his life combining his engineering knowledge and facial plastic surgery expertise to see if there was any way to develop an objective system to measure facial attractiveness.

This book brings you the results of that research.