May 8, 2009
Editor's Note: This story is part of an In-Depth Report on the science of beauty. Read more about the series here.
What makes beauty? A flawless complexion? Inner serenity? A free gift-with-purchase just in time for Mother's Day (nudge, nudge—Sunday, May 10)?
Philosophers, artists and everyday consumers have long pondered the question of what beauty, that amorphous it-factor, really is. Science has taken a stab at the question, too, and the range of answers might be surprising.
Physical appearance seems to be only part of the equation. Despite the billions of dollars forked over every year for cosmetics and beautification procedures, looks aren't the whole kit and kaboodle. In fact, according to a 2008 study in the journal Vision Research, even a computer can be taught to recognize who is hot or not. So what else can real live humans bring to the table?
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