Can facial attractiveness scores obtained from an Internet-based rating system correlate with and be an alternative for those accrued from the traditional focus group method?
Explore this issue:May 2010
Background: Despite the extensive number of facial beauty studies, research has been unable to define facial beauty with more specific parameters. A significant limitation is the tedium and difficulty of obtaining large focus groups. Additionally, these groups can be biased with regard to social, economic, cultural, age and other factors.
Study Design: Statistical evaluation of Internet-based facial attractiveness ratings of synthetic facial portraits compared to traditional focus group ratings
Setting: Researchers from the University of California, Irvine utilized focus groups and the Internet site Hotornot.com.
Synopsis: With eight months of extensive logistical planning, 120 synthetic images were evaluated for facial attractiveness using traditional focus groups composed of beauticians trained in media concepts of facial beauty, otolaryngologists with a clinical knowledge of facial analysis and students without specific education in the field. The free website Hotornot.com was selected for the Internet portion of the study because it receives heavy traffic, automatically updates scores (with an average of 857 rates after only 21 days) and has a user-friendly interface. Rater count was increased an average of almost nine-fold, there were no logistical or monetary hurdles and very limited planning was involved. Comparing the two rating systems, the researchers found a strong and positive linear correlation, indicating that both methods agree on which portraits are more or less attractive than others. Limitations to the Internet approach included the unknown demographics of the raters, as well as possible sampling biases. However, these biases were also present in the traditional method and were reduced by accruing a large sample size.
Bottom Line: An Internet-based facial attractiveness rating system is an accurate and faster alternative to the inefficient traditional focus group rating method and can greatly increase the number and demographic variability of raters.
Citation: Devcic Z, Karimi K, Popenko N, et al. A Web-based method for rating facial attractiveness. Laryngoscope. 2010;120(5):902-906.
—Reviewed by Sue Pondrom