With her blond flowing locks and pale skin, the goddess of love, Venus, is seen as the epitome of beauty, as depicted by generations of artists such as Botticelli.
But new research appears to turn this theory on its head. Scientists now believe that people of mixed race, particularly Eurasians, possess certain genetic advantages that lead to greater health and, as a result, increased attractiveness.
In the first study of its kind, Caucasians a Japanese people rate t Eurasian faces as more j attractive than faces of j either race. Re-searchers developed a series of faces, rang ing from those with exaggerated Caucasian features to those, with exaggerated Japanese features. When Caucasian and Japanese volunteers looked at photographs of Caucasian, Japanese and Eurasian faces, both groups rated the Eurasian faces the most attractive and healthiest. People from other racial backgrounds will, of course, have their own preferred blends.
One researcher said the results proved that "our preferences are shaped by evolution". Humans would have encountered few individuals of mixed race when they first evolved. Only with the West's olonisation of Africa, he Americas and the Far East, as well as the trade links that were then established around the world, did different races mix more readily.
Evolutionary psychologists argue that the findings indicate not only individual pre erences for physical beauty. Th also suggest that Eurasians an other mixed race individuals a pear healthier. In the search f a reproductive partner, huma look for markers of good gene ic health.
Dr George Fieldman, a lea ing British psychology exper at Buckinghamshire Chilterns University College, said facia l symmetry also played a part: I "It is conceivable that mixed I races are ironing out asymmetries and differences of the kind that may make you mor attractive."
The number of mixed rac people in Britain grew by 75 p cent during the 1990s. In the 20 census, roughly 1.5 per cent of the population classed itself as of mixed race. …