A new research claims that a single well-healed facial scar does not have a negative impact on initial impressions of attractiveness, confidence, and friendliness. However, specific scar locations, such as a perpendicular scar at the mid-lower eyelid, may result in decreased perceived attractiveness, confidence, and friendliness.
Scars may arise as a result of cuts and burns or as a result of various illnesses. Scar tissue may develop as a result of cuts during surgical procedures. Once an injury has healed, scar tissue may form, making the location of the healed injury visible on the skin for years.
Scarification, or intentionally scarring, has been a part of many cultures throughout history. Scars were intentionally created in ways that conveyed specific meanings within the culture. Specific types of scares, such as battle scars or dueling scars, may be treated as badges of honor in certain cultures, but scars generally diminish their attractiveness.
A substantial amount of work is devoted by plastic surgeons to minimizing the severity of lacerations and scars. This is particularly the case with facial scars. One of the most important principles of facial surgery is that cuts should be cut away from highly visible areas of the face in a way that minimizes the later visible scars as much as possible.
Zachary D. Zapatero and his colleagues wanted to see if well-healed scars affect one's appearance and character in situations of a first impression. First impressions are important as they are basically split-second judgments that are made when you first meet a person, and that can have an impact on future interactions with that person.
Researchers compared digitally rendered scars to photographs with actual scars.
Scars were placed at four locations: forehead (F), lower eyelid (E), cheek (C) or upper lip (L); in the middle (M) or border (B) of anatomical subunits; and by orientation parallel (=) or perpendicular (+) to resting facial tension lines, according to study authors. Equal numbers of scars were added to the left and right side of faces.
Each participant assessed 50 different faces. Each face was presented only once to each participant, but there were 15 variations of each face with different scar configurations or without scars. The face photograph that would be presented to each participant was chosen randomly. Participants were 1,777 MTurk workers, 52 percent male, and close to 70 percent white.
The presence or absence of a scar also had no bearing on the appraisal of the individual in the photograph, although scarred faces were, on average, rated as friendlier.
When the location of the scar was taken into account, results showed that the scar location did not affect the ratings of attractiveness. Faces with scars on the forehead were rated as more confident and friendlier. Scars on the lower lid and upper lip did not affect confidence and friendliness ratings.
"On average, a single well-healed facial scar does not affect first impressions of attractiveness, confidence, or friendliness." However, specific scar location and orientation combinations, such as a perpendicular scar of the lower eyelid subunit, may be an outlier in this regard, resulting in lower perceived attractiveness, confidence, and friendliness.
Researchers used a limited selection of well-healed scars. It is possible that other types of scars or more prominent scars might not be the same in real life or in videos. Where the scar can be seen under different conditions and in the facial motion, it may be different.
Zachary D. Zapatero, Clifford I. Workman, Christopher L. Kalmar, Mychajlo S. Kosyk, Jordan W. Swanson, and Jesse A. Taylor wrote the paper.