Beauty And The Natural Selection Process
Beauty is commonly defined as a mental attribute of things that makes these things aesthetically pleasing to see. These things include sunsets, landscapes, art and other works of art. It is said that beauty is subjective and there are no rules to define it. Beauty, along with beauty and taste, is often the basis of aestheticism, one of the most influential branches of art history. Other important topics of aesthetic studies include impressionism, theoria, decorative art, modern art, and pre-modern art.
According to some theories, beauty has a reproductive function in that it helps to establish the health of the brain. According to this theory, beautiful things are those which are aesthetically appealing to the human eye and nose, and these are generally the very objects which are mentally satisfying. Beautiful things and their appealing appearances stimulate the brain and thus increase the production of certain brain chemicals, including dopamine, a chemical associated with pleasantness.
Dopamine levels increase during the perception of beauty and are thus associated with reproductive success. Beauty also stimulates the release of hormones such as serotonin, resulting in feelings of well being. Thus attractive faces and pleasant smells have been found to be associated with better health and happiness.
In addition to the brain-stimulating effects of beauty, there is also potential for beauty to have an effect on behavior. When we are exposed to beauty, we become more attentive, responsive and cooperative in our thinking and our behavior is then likely to follow suit. This may explain why unattractive individuals have higher response rates in tests of cognitive ability and have greater academic achievement. We already know that people who are attractive are more likely to get promoted or have a successful career. In nature, attractive creatures with greater reproductive potential such as birds or fish are more abundant than unattractive ones and therefore have more opportunities to mate.
People who are more attractive have larger neural pathways in their brain than others, which allows them to make quicker and more reliable judgments about facial appearance. For example, a study showed that the visual cortex, which is a small region deep within the brain, was more activated when participants looked at photographs of faces which were more physically attractive. The same pattern was observed in smokers: those who smoke had stronger connections between the visual cortex and the nucleus accumbens, which are responsible for making decisions about smoking behavior.
According to the natural selection theory, evolution has selected individuals who are most attractive due to their ability to reproduce and pass their genes on to future generations. It is therefore reasonable to assume that our brains are wired to be attracted to and respond to physical attractiveness. This explains why some people are naturally attracted to beauty in others, and why people find it difficult to look away from their own beauty. While the results of this study cannot prove that natural selection is the sole factor that determines human beauty, it does suggest that there may be an important part of the equation.