Smoking status and attractiveness among exemplar and prototypical identical twins discordant for smoking

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Smoking is associated with negative health of skin and increased signs of facial ageing. We aimed to address two questions about smoking and appearance: (1) does facial appearance alone provide an indication of smoking status, and (2) how does smoking affect the attractiveness of faces? We used faces of identical twins discordant for smoking, and prototypes made by averaging the faces of the twins. In Task 1, we presented exemplar twin sets and same sex prototypes side-by-side and participants (n = 590) indicated which face was the smoker. Participants were blind to smoking status. In Task 2 a separate sample (n = 580) indicated which face was more attractive. For the exemplar twin sets, there was inconclusive evidence participants selected the smoking twin as the smoker more often, or selected the non-smoking twin as the more attractive more often. For the prototypes, however, participants clearly selected the smoking prototypes as the smoker more often, and the non-smoking prototypes as the more attractive. Prototypical faces of smokers are judged more attractive and correctly identified as smokers more often than prototypical faces of matched non-smokers. We discuss the possible use of these findings in smoking behaviour change interventions.
Original languageEnglish
Article number161076
Number of pages10
JournalRoyal Society Open Science
Early online date13 Dec 2017
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2017

Structured keywords

  • Brain and Behaviour
  • Cognitive Science
  • Social Cognition
  • Tactile Action Perception
  • Tobacco and Alcohol


  • smoking
  • status
  • facial
  • attractiveness
  • identical twins


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