More Than Meets the Eye: The Effect of Intercanthal Distance on Perception of Beauty and Personality

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Abstract

In judging normalcy, surgeons rely on established facial anthropometric measures and proportions. However, there exists a range of “normal,” and a degree of disproportion may be considered more attractive. The authors set out to determine how changes in only intercanthal distance affect the layperson's perception of beauty and personality traits of a face. The authors used Amazon.com's Mechanical Turk (MTurk), a crowdsourcing tool, to determine how changes in intercanthal distance affect overall perception of beauty and personality. MTurk respondents provided demographic information and were asked to survey 16 female subjects, each digitally edited to be hypoteloric or hyperteloric. Data were collected from 490 MTurk crowd raters. Paired t test analysis found that respondents perceived subjects to be more submissive, friendly, and attractive with increased intercanthal distance (P < 0.05). Women respondents were less likely to perceive change in regards to how unthreatening and how intelligent the subject appeared upon intercanthal widening (P < 0.05). Compared with Caucasian respondents, minorities (Asian- and African-American) were more likely to perceive difference in submissiveness, threat, intelligence, and attractiveness with increased intercanthal distance (P < 0.05). All respondents >46 years of age were less likely to perceive a change in any of the 7 traits upon intercanthal widening, compared with respondents between 18 and 25 years of age (P < 0.05). The layperson perceives significant increases in a female subject's submissivness, friendliness, and attractiveness with an intercanthal distance increase of 10% from normal. Surgeons should be aware of this when correcting hypertelorism, given the potential positive impact of a slightly increased intercanthal distance on perceived beauty and personality.

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