HEALTHY LIVING

The Symmetry Of Your Face Could Reveal Details About Your Childhood: Study

08/30/2011 08:27 am ET | Updated Oct 29, 2011

Scientists at the University of Edinburgh have found that your facial symmetry can reveal details about your childhood -- particularly your socioeconomic status.

The study was based on measurements of the facial and bodily symmetry of 292 Scottish adults between the ages of 83 and 87. Participants were also asked a series of questions about their childhood that could be indicators of early stress levels -- for instance, the occupation of their parents, the number of people living at home and sleeping in the same room and whether they had indoor plumbing,

The researchers found a significant correlation between poor socioeconomic status and lower facial symmetry. By contrast, low socioeconomic status later in life did not have much of an impact on a person's facial features. The correlation was also stronger for men than women.

The study was recently published in the journal Economics and Human Biology. Professor Ian Deary from the University of Edinburgh said, "Symmetry in the face is thought to be a marker of what is called developmental stability -- the body's ability to withstand environmental stressors and not be knocked off its developmental path."

"The results indicated that it is deprivation in early life that leaves some impression on the face. The association is not very strong, meaning that other things also affect facial symmetry too."

Previous research has shown that better facial symmetry is also linked to slower mental decline. As a result, facial symmetry can show that a man has experienced fewer "genetic and environmental disturbances" like illness, malnutrition and infection in his lifetime.

This may also help explain why people with symmetrical faces are universally thought to be more attractive: A more symmetrical face, we now understand, can signal better health and greater wealth.

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