Golden Ratio for Faces - Female Faces at Least
In 2009, Psychology researchers Pamela Pallett and Stephen Link from the University of California teamed up with Kang Lee of the University of Toronto to try and find an ideal facial arrangement for human faces. They wished to discover if there was an ideal distance apart both horizontally and vertically, to determine maximum attractiveness.
The plan was to start with female faces, then move on to male afterwards. However, only Caucasian adult female faces were included in the study, and if further work has been done, it has not yet been published. However, there is still considerable value to the work, as a basis for determining optimum placement or rearranging from a photo to create an avatar face retaining a person's basic features or from a basic set of features.
In the experiments the researchers assessed separately, the contribution of vertical feature spacing to the perception of attractiveness (using a large pool of subjects to analyse computer-generated faces with different spacing widths perceived attractiveness of an individual face).
They acknowledged that each face normally varies in attractiveness, but postulated that for each face there was an ideal spacing based on the relative sizing of elements such as the eyes, the nose and mouth, to determine their distance from one another.
The researchers ultimately discovered two "golden ratios," one for length and one for width. Female faces were judged more attractive when the vertical distance between their eyes and the mouth was approximately 36 percent of the face's length, and the horizontal distance between their eyes was approximately 46 percent of the face's width.
Interestingly, these proportions correspond with those of an average physical face anyway.
"We already know that different facial features make a female face attractive large eyes, for example, or full lips," said Lee, a professor at University of Toronto and the director of the Institute of Child Study at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. "Our study conclusively proves that the structure of faces the relation between our face contour and the eyes, mouth and nose also contributes to our perception of facial attractiveness. Our finding also explains why sometimes an attractive person looks unattractive or vice versa after a haircut, because hairdos change the ratios."
This of course means that if you wish to keep an avatar's face attractive with a different hairstyle, it actually may be necessary to subtly move elements around. A hitherto unexplored facet of psychology which is possible with avatars in ways it is absolutely not possible with physical faces.
The researchers suggest that the perception of facial attractiveness is a result of a cognitive averaging process by which people take in all the faces they see and average them to get an ideal width ratio and an ideal length ratio. They also posit that "averageness" (like symmetry) is a proxy for health, and that we may be predisposed by biology and evolution to find average faces attractive.
This research for obvious reasons, is equally worthy of consideration when creating androids and gynoids, as making their faces look as healthy as possible to their human co-workers is going to greatly ease interaction difficulties from the human's point of view, just as much as it will ease interaction or boost the confidence levels of shyer avatar users in virtual environments so see their features idealised in other's perception, by nudging them to their ideal placement in an avatar's face.