Is love blind?

11 Feb 2014

This coming Valentine’s Day many of us will spend the evening gazing lovingly at that special someone while at an establishment where the wait staff ask if you’d like your water ‘still or sparkling?’ And some of us will spend the night watching About a Boy, while consoling with your good friends Ben and Jerry.

But wherever you are and whatever you’re doing, you’ll probably think about that thing called ‘love’ at some stage of that Hallmark day.

In a recent paper written for Behavioral Ecology, UQ’s Professor Bill von Hippel from the School of Psychology looked at how the human face can factor into decision-making when it comes to choosing a mate.

The paper titled ‘Human facial attributes, but not perceived intelligence, are used as cues of health and resource provision potential’ (co written with Anthony Lee, UQ PhD student, Shelli L. Dubbs, Ashleigh J. Kelly, Robert C. Brooks and Brendan P. Zietsch) looks at data gathered from 689 participants.

The findings suggest that the way a face looks is used in ‘mate assessment’ to help ascertain the health of your potential other half, while also making a judgment call on the ‘likelihood of resource provisioning’ – i.e. can they bring home the bacon? It also suggested that intelligence may primarily be used as a cue of other, distinct qualities – like assembling IKEA furniture or programming the video recorder.

‘Is Love Blind’ is a funny and informative talk outlining Professor Von Hippel's research - and you can play along with the audience as he conducts a quick ‘scientific experiment’ on facial attributes, and what men and women are looking for in a partner.