Beauty is commonly defined as a subjective quality of certain objects which makes these objects enjoyable to see. This definition is widely used in all walks of life; however it is not limited to any particular understanding. Such subjective qualities can be consciously perceived, they can be contemplated without having an emotional reaction and they can even be perceived purely from a physical perspective. Beauty, along with beauty, is perhaps the most important theme of aesthetics, another of the most important branches of contemporary philosophy.
There are two broad schools of thought in relation to beauty. The first school maintains that beauty is nothing but the sum of a few independent and unconnected attributes which enhance the object being beautified. In this view beauty exists independent of any emotional reaction a human may have towards the object being beautified, and although beauty does not require the approval of others it can be perceived as being desirable or even necessary by some individuals.
The second school of thought underlies much of modern psychology. According to this school beauty is determined by the strength of the psychological bond which a person forms with an object. This bond is said to be so strong that the human brain’s responses are automatically governed by the pleasure which it evokes. According to this view beauty is nothing but the result of the brain’s interpretation of an object. In this way beauty is not related to any physiological need or desire, and is independent of the human brain. Modern science has largely rejected this view and instead has emphasized the importance of personal experience and the subjective states of beauty.
In psychology, the meaning of beauty has been related to various psychological states, including but not limited to the following: the desire for beauty, the feeling that we get when looking at certain objects, the mental states associated with beauty and the idea of beauty as an object. In addition, beauty has been related to certain kinds of emotions such as shame, anger, pride and vanity. Most people today agree that beauty exists on a spectrum, rather than in a single form. For instance, some consider ugly things to be beautiful, while others regard beautiful objects as ugly.
Another branch of psychology which deals with beauty is that of advertising psychology. In this field, advertisers aim to make their products and services associated with certain notions of beauty. Advertisers make use of pictures, words and images to communicate their messages about the attributes of their products and services and to build up brand loyalty. Apart from the psychological aspects of beauty, there are also economic reasons for using beauty in advertising.
People are built with certain physical and psychological traits which are genetically based. The physical attributes which appear in a person depend largely on the genes transmitted by the parents to the children during their reproduction process. It therefore follows that the psychological side of beauty is determined by genes inherited from the parents rather than by the individual himself. This idea is contrary to the traditional view that beauty is an independent variable dependent upon individual personality traits and hence independent of genes.