New Zealand-U.S. study finds secret to mixed-race appeal


Mixed race people tend to be more attractive because their faces are more "face-like" than single-race people and fail to fall into an obvious racial category, according to a New Zealand-U.S. study.

Researchers from New Zealand's University of Otago and the University of California, San Diego, blended two faces, one Chinese and one Caucasian, and tested the reactions of others to the new face.

"Previous research has shown that blended faces, regardless of race, are usually more attractive than the original faces that go into the blend," Professor Jamin Halberstadt of Otago's Department of Psychology, said in a statement Thursday.

"This blending effect is especially evident for cross-race blends, so if you take two people of different races and blend them together then you get a face that is more attractive than the originals. Also, that blend is more attractive than a blend of two faces from the same race," he said.

"Our idea was that these effects might be explainable by ' processing fluency' - how easy it is to perceive, process, and categorize something. Blended faces are 'easier on the eyes,' because they are very 'face-like,' and this ease creates a positive feeling toward them."

The test groups preferred mixed-race faces to single-race faces, but found the blended faces less attractive when they were asked to first categorize the racial group the face belonged to.

In that case, the faces seemed relatively ambiguous, and that ambiguity translated into negative attitudes.

Halberstadt said it appeared that a blend was attractive as long as the viewer did not have to think about where it came from.

"When you think of multi-racial individuals as examples of humans, they are more appealing because they better capture your overall experience of life. But when you think of them as examples of their racial groups then they become more ambiguous and that ambiguity pulls down their appeal," he said.