What does it mean to be “cute”? Beauty standards and perceptions of attractiveness vary across cultures, but one thing is clear: being called “cute” is something entirely different. Is there a scientific explanation of why our brains perceive some people as “cute” and others as “beautiful,” “hot,” and so on? We’re about to answer all of them with the help of science!
Why we find babies so cute 1:13
What the EDAR gene is 2:28
What sexual dimorphism is 3:47
How Korean pop music is changing the world 4:35
- There are other traits in babies that our brain, for whatever reason, finds adorable. They have a disproportionate head-to-body size and short limbs. In fact, if babies were proportioned more like mini-adults, we probably wouldn’t be as inclined to coo at them!
- East Asian people tend to hold onto these features into adulthood, a phenomenon called “neoteny.” Studies have found that neotenous faces are often perceived as more social and feminine, whereas non-neotenous faces are seen as more intimidating.
- The EDAR gene controls the development of our hair, skin, and teeth. This mutation causes people to have thicker hair shafts, more oil glands (which helps keep skin looking youthful for longer), and less breast tissue in females.
- Sexual dimorphism is what makes males and females of the same species look different. So, less sexual dimorphism means men with neotenous faces tend to look more feminine.
- The recent surge in the worldwide popularity of Korean pop music (abbreviated as Kpop) with groups like BTS has put this cultural difference in the spotlight. Rather than exhibiting the sort of “macho” features of Western standards of male beauty, sensational Kpop stars like Jimin have smooth faces, slim bodies, and an overall feminine appearance.