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The Oxford Compendium of Visual Illusions$
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Arthur G. Shapiro and Dejan Todorovic

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780199794607

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199794607.001.0001

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The Illusion of Sex

The Illusion of Sex

Chapter:
(p.620) Chapter 88 The Illusion of Sex
Source:
The Oxford Compendium of Visual Illusions
Author(s):

Richard Russell

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199794607.003.0088

In the Illusion of Sex, an androgynous face has been manipulated to have increased or decreased contrast between its features and the surrounding skin. This manipulation makes the face appear male or female. The Illusion of Sex works by manipulating the luminance contrast between the eyes and lips and the rest of the face. It has been shown that manipulating it affects the attractiveness of male and female faces differently. In particular, female faces are more attractive with facial contrast increased than decreased, while male faces are more attractive with facial contrast decreased than increased. This effect of facial contrast on attractiveness is a result of a naturally occurring sex difference in facial contrast. The illusion demonstrates the importance of this kind of contrast for the perception of gender and is related to typical cosmetics use, which involves the darkening of the eyes and lips relative to the surrounding skin.

Keywords:   Illusion of Sex, face, luminance contrast, female faces, male faces, gender

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