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Year : 2022  |  Volume : 10  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 81-89

Conceptualization of facial beauty among female students in a Southwestern Nigerian university using the golden ratio model

1 Department of Anatomy, Faculty of Basic Medical Sciences, University of Medical Sciences, Ondo, Nigeria
2 Department of Human Anatomy, Faculty of Basic Medical Sciences, School of Health and Technology, Federal University of Technology Akure, Akure, Ondo State, Nigeria

Date of Submission02-Sep-2022
Date of Decision23-Oct-2022
Date of Acceptance09-Nov-2022
Date of Web Publication05-Dec-2022

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Kingsley Afoke Iteire
Department of Anatomy, University of Medical Sciences, Ondo City, Ondo State
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/njecp.njecp_12_22

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Introduction: The golden ratio is a mathematical formula proposed over the years to assess facial beauty objectively. The correlation between the golden ratio and facial attractiveness has been researched in the Caucasian and Asian populations, with little literature on the African population. This study aimed to establish a baseline study on the relationship between subjective assessment of facial beauty and the golden ratio among female students of the University of Medical Sciences, Ondo, Nigeria. Materials and Methods: One hundred female students aged 1622 years were mobilized for the study. The facial landmarks that Gary Meisner proposed and the PhiMatrix software to analyze golden facial ratios were employed. A relationship between the subjective perception of beauty and the golden ratio was established by having observers rate the photographs; based on this; the sample was grouped into esthetically pleasant, unpleasant, and acceptable. The golden facial ratios were then measured in these classified faces. Results: The result revealed that 68 females from the study sample conformed to the golden ratio. The highest percentage from the esthetically pleasant groups was significant at P < 0.05. When these ratios were isolated and tested, only four of the ratios were substantial, at P < 0.05. Conclusion: From this result, it is possible to infer a relationship between the golden ratio and facial attractiveness. However, it may not be used as an objective measure of facial beauty because many faces classified as acceptable and unattractive also exhibit golden proportions.

Keywords: Beauty proportions, facial esthetic, golden ratio, perception, PhiMatrix

How to cite this article:
Iteire KA, Chukwudebe F, Ukwenya VO, Johnson FO, Uwejigho RE, Enemali FU. Conceptualization of facial beauty among female students in a Southwestern Nigerian university using the golden ratio model. Niger J Exp Clin Biosci 2022;10:81-9

How to cite this URL:
Iteire KA, Chukwudebe F, Ukwenya VO, Johnson FO, Uwejigho RE, Enemali FU. Conceptualization of facial beauty among female students in a Southwestern Nigerian university using the golden ratio model. Niger J Exp Clin Biosci [serial online] 2022 [cited 2023 Feb 9];10:81-9. Available from: https://www.njecbonline.org/text.asp?2022/10/3/81/362646

  Introduction Top

The concept of beauty has always had differing opinions and views, ranging from arbitrary personal preference to scientific measures proposed for the beauty field.[1] These disparities have been studied for many years with the conclusion that beauty is not in the eyes of the perceiver, but rather the brain has a way of processing beauty and considers specific faces beautiful across all cultures. Therefore, beauty can be measured scientifically, and facial esthetic appearance is modifiable with scientific and measurable practices in modern surgery, thereby establishing a standard for beauty that is consistent regardless of culture and ornamentations. Previous literature has shown through the process of finding universally attractive faces and body features that a pretty face is proportional and that a specific ratio can be found in these faces, which defines their attractive proportions and makes this face more attractive than the less attractive faces. The golden ratio (phi) is a concept regarding the scientific measure of beauty or golden proportion introduced by ancient Greeks. Adolf Zeising, in 1854 emphasized the golden section as an extraordinary proportion that was beneath the beauty of everything in the universe.[2] This ratio is found worldwide in most forms of nature, all objects of beauty, and the human face.[2] This ratio is a unique number found by dividing a line into two parts so that the longer part divided by, the smaller part equals the whole length divided by the longer part. In one study by Ricketts, it was discovered that people whose facial dimensions vary significantly from this ratio would be perceived by most as unattractive or even deformed and grotesque,[3] which several studies have supported. There has indeed been evidence supporting the idea that the objective appraisal of facial beauty is possible and that faces that observe certain universal parameters, such as symmetry, the Neoclassical Canon, and the Golden Ratio, are deemed beautiful across different cultures and ethnicities.[4],[5] Besides, there is presently little evidence of facial index about the golden ratio in Nigeria. The golden ratio has been researched about facial attractiveness in Asians and Caucasians. These studies concluded that some researchers recognize ratios “around” the golden proportion as positive evidence of a linkage between this ratio and facial beauty. With this evidence, the golden ratio is currently being applied in the esthetics industry ranging from cosmetic surgery to photography.

Nonetheless, there is also contrary evidence regarding this correlation, with critics arguing that the golden ratio is a wrong and preferential method to predict attractiveness based on the ideal mask created by Marquardt.[1] The faces of professional models have not always been found to fit the golden proportion.[6] For patients undergoing orthognathic surgery, while most subjects were perceived as more attractive after the operation, small proportions were as likely to move toward or away from golden proportions.[7] Furthermore, studies assessing the prevalence of the golden proportion in the general population rather than just attractive faces[8] found those whole populations may indeed exhibit some facial ratios that are similar to golden proportions; therefore, this proportion may indeed be a facial ratio that many faces exhibit rather than a specific measurement that correlates with beauty. Furthermore, the models used by Marquardt and Jefferson to represent the black race using the golden ratio mask have facial proportions similar to the Caucasians.[9] A recent study using African-Caribbean black models discovered that out of twelve (12) facial ratios, only one correlated with the golden ratio.[1] However, in Nigeria, no study has been done to determine its association with facial attractiveness in Nigerian ethnicities, which could determine whether the golden ratio standard may judge facial beauty in Nigerian females.

Consequently, it is pertinent to perform a baseline study among female students of the University of Medical Sciences, which could determine whether the perception of facial beauty is influenced by the golden ratio, the introduction of this standard called the golden ratio or divine proportion for the evaluation of a face profile can lead orthodontic, orthopedic and surgical treatment to obtain maximum facial beauty and enrich the existing body of work on the golden ratio and its association with facial beauty in the black population. This study will undoubtedly enhance the scientific understanding of beauty in Nigerians and facilitate studies on the evaluation of facial attractiveness. Hence, this study aims to provide a facial anthropometric and esthetic analysis of female students at the University of Medical Sciences using Meisner's Beauty Guide for Golden Ratio Facial Analysis to ascertain whether a relationship exists between subjective perception of beauty and the golden ratio among students of the university.

  Materials and Methods Top

All the principles of the Declaration of Helsinki were followed. The University of Medical Sciences Research and Ethics Committee approved the research. Written and verbal informed approval was obtained from the volunteers before any research procedures began.

Subjects and sample selection

The study used a cross-sectional descriptive design involving stratified random sampling to select 100 female subjects aged between 16 and 22 years from the University Of Medical Sciences. Every department within a faculty and every faculty within the university was fully represented. First-year, 2nd-year, 3rd-year, and 4th-year students were adequately represented in every department. One hundred female students were chosen because the study population was homogenous (all females) and had not undergone any previous facial surgeries. Furthermore, previous studies[10],[11] on attractiveness and golden ratio used samples between 50 and 100, in addition to further considering the number of evaluators or raters to make their ratings easier and more critical.

Our inclusion criteria in this work were based on the following:

  1. The participant must not have undergone any corrective or cosmetic procedure around the head or neck region
  2. The individual must have signed the consent form to participate in this research voluntarily
  3. As an evaluator, the individual had no prior knowledge or face-to-face contact/with any female subject
  4. The professionals were mature and knowledgeable and versed enough to access the photographs for the issue being investigated. Furthermore, the sample size for this group was based on their availability within the research location, considering the scope of the study.

However, the criteria for the exclusion from participating in this research for this sample group were based on the following:

  1. The individual had undergone corrective or cosmetic surgery around the head or neck region
  2. The individual was not willing to participate voluntarily in this research
  3. The evaluator had prior knowledge and face-to-face contact with the participants from the subject group.

The photographs were taken while the subjects' heads were oriented in the natural position.[12] Behind the subject, a white screen was placed on standardizing the background, and a headshot of each volunteer was taken using a digital camera. To take the photographs in a natural head position, subjects were asked to stand up and look straight into the camera lens. In this position, the lips were relaxed, reposed, with no smile. All photographs were then converted to black and white (silhouette) using the Adobe Photoshop program. The photographs were then saved to the computer in JPEG format for further processing and analysis. For the esthetic score rating of the participants, the photographs were printed out on paper in black and white format. The observers were eight in total: Four (4) students, two males and two females, two orthodontists: One male and one female, and two artists: One male and one female. The students were randomly chosen from Adeyemi College of Education, Ondo, and Wesley University, Ondo. The orthodontists were chosen from the University of Medical Sciences Teaching Hospital, and the artists were lecturers in Fine and Applied Arts from Adeyemi College of Education. The observers presented these photographs and were asked to pick their preference from the one they found aesthetically pleasing to the least aesthetically pleasing. They were given a questionnaire to record their answers. In this questionnaire the evaluators were asked to assign a score from 0 to 5 (01 = unattractive, 23 acceptable, 4 = attractive, and 5 = very attractive). To assess intra-assessor reliability, the observers repeated the entire sample approximately 2 weeks after the first rating with the same method.[13] In this manner, at the close of the two sessions, there were two scores for each subject. The mean of the scores for each photograph was calculated, which became the score for each photograph. The mean of the scores for the eight observers was calculated such that each profile was rated, based on which the profiles were categorised into three groups:

  • GROUP A: Esthetically pleasant with profile scores of 45
  • GROUP B: Esthetically acceptable with profile scores of 2.03.9
  • GROUP C: Esthetically unpleasant with profile scores of 01.9.

The subjects' photographic measurements were done using Adobe Photoshop CS6 and a Free version of Phimatrix 1.618 Pro computer software.

Facial golden ratio measurement

Meisner's Beauty Guide for Golden Ratio Facial Analysis[14] was recognized for analyzing golden ratio proportions in the faces [Table 1]. To confirm the presence of the golden ratio on the faces of the subjects, the PhiMatrix 1.618 software was used to analyze the faces. The face grid was used to reveal the phi positions of the facial features in the subjects. Meisner's beauty guide for Golden Ratio face analysis was used as a marker to identify some golden ratio proportions in the faces of the subjects [Figure 1]. The top of the grid was aligned with the top of the head of the subjects (vertex), and the bottom of the grid was aligned with the chin. The lines that revealed the phi positions of the facial features were the horizontal and vertical lines. These lines could be increased, resized, or decreased to measure all dimensions. The photographs were opened in the Adobe Photoshop template, and the ruler tool was used to measure the grid lines on the faces. For every parameter, the ratio between them was used so that the actual length of the measured parameter was of no importance.[11] The values were then entered into Statistical package for the social sciences software (SPSS), for windows version 14.0. Manufactured by (IBM in Amonk New York, United States of America) for the data analysis. Concerning the facial golden ratio measurement, an acceptance interval for values approximating 1.60 (1.58 <1.65) was determined.[14]
Figure 1: Reference points used for the analysis of the Golden Ratio

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Table 1: Meisner beauty guide for golden ratio facial analysis

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Data analysis

The generated data were analyzed with the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS Version 20). Simple descriptive statistics (percentage) were used to analyze the esthetic score ratings the observers gave when grading the photographs in their appearance of attractiveness and to group the students into three aesthetic groups. The Kappa index was used to confirm the concordance level between the evaluations of the different groups. Comparisons between the numerical measurements obtained in the three (3) groups (esthetically pleasant, acceptable, and unpleasant) were carried out using the analysis of variance test (ANOVA). ANOVA was also used to verify a statistically significant difference in the golden ratio proportions of the three esthetic groups of female students at the University of Medical Sciences, Ondo. The confidence limit was set at 95% (P < 0.05).

  Results Top

A total of 100 female students were grouped into three (3) categories. 6% were categorised as unpleasant, 7% were classified as pleasant, and 87% were categorized as acceptable. These results show that the majority of the students are esthetically acceptable, with 87%, while relatively few were seen as esthetically pleasant and unpleasant [Table 2]. The kappa index [Table 3] shows that the agreement between the laypeople and artists was less than zero (0), revealing a poor agreement between the laypeople and artists who served as observers. The level of agreement between the laypeople and orthodontists was slight, and the agreement between the artists and orthodontists was also small. Among 100 female students, 68 females conform to the golden ratio (1.618). The esthetically pleasant group of students had 85.7% conformity, the esthetically unpleasant group had 66.7% conformity, and the esthetically acceptable group had 66.7% conformity [Table 4]. In the results of the ANOVA test for statistical significance in the conformity of the three esthetic groups to the golden ratio [Table 5], a significant difference was found at P < 0.05 between the esthetically pleasant, unpleasant, and acceptable groups of students.
Table 2: Percentage of aesthetic rating

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Table 3: Verification of level of agreement between groups of rater

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Table 4: Conformity of students with the golden ratio

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Table 5: Significance of conformity to the golden ratio among groups

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  Discussion Top

Percentage of students in three aesthetic groups and degree of agreement between observers

In this subjective assessment of facial beauty, the researchers were aware that several variables may have affected the rating process. Nevertheless, because this study is meant as a baseline study, the discrepancies should be noted for further studies. Moreover, considering the findings of the subjective analysis of facial esthetics in classifying the sample, it was observed that 6% of the sample studied was classified as esthetically unpleasant, 87% esthetically acceptable, and 7% esthetically pleasing; in this way, the prevalence of the excellent standard was verified [Table 1]. These findings agree with other research, which demonstrates the predominance of the excellent pattern[10] in the samples. However, the smallest group found in this work was esthetically unpleasant; these findings contradict the study by Morosini et al., in which the smallest group was esthetically pleasant.[15]

Furthermore, the conformity of agreement in judging attractive faces in this study was higher than in evaluating ugly faces as unattractive. This result contrasts with Jirathamopas and colleagues, who reported that evaluators tended to agree more on which faces were unattractive.[16] Moreover, this study aligns with the trend of most previous research where the evaluator groups were orthodontists, plastic surgeons, artists, and laypeople who judged the esthetics of the sample to avoid individual influences with the diversity of the evaluators.[15] Considering this, the evaluator group (observer) selected to classify the sample comprised two orthodontists, two visual artists, and four laypeople of both genders. In addition, to reduce gender influence, the evaluator group was composed of an equal number of males and females.

Notwithstanding that many studies concur that dental professionals, especially orthodontists, are more critical and more precise in analyzing the esthetic of teeth and smiles,[17] the controversy of whether the professionals are more or less vital than laypeople when evaluating the beauty of the face existed. While some studies revealed that professionals were less critical,[18],[19],[20] others found no significance in facial esthetic evaluation between professionals and laypeople[15],[21] or even found that laypeople were less critical.[22],[23] Therefore, our study assessed the agreement level between evaluators through the kappa index by comparing groups in pairs. Agreement between laypeople and artists was considered poor by the kappa index (−0.007), between laypeople and orthodontists and between artists and orthodontists; however, there was a slight agreement, being respectively 0.007 and 0.021. Besides, the lowest agreement occurred between laypeople and artists, and the highest was between orthodontists and artists. The obtained data show little agreement between evaluations, suggesting that the criteria of esthetic appreciation are subjective, confirming the findings of Mara and co-researchers.[15] In addition, it also offers a tendency for orthodontists to rate pictures as esthetically acceptable or pleasant, refusing to describe any profile as esthetically unpleasant. Previous studies proposed many factors yielding differences in attractive facial perception between hospital staff (orthodontists and dentists) and laypeople. These factors include the level of dental education or training experience,[19] and the time laypeople took to complete attractiveness evaluation was shorter, which inadvertently leads to the conclusion that laypeople tended to rate the profiles on their initial assessment. At the same time, orthodontists and oral surgeons might over-evaluate each. The better specialized and related to esthetics the evaluator groups, the more the scores assigned to the sample; the kappa index of the slight agreement also supports this. Nonetheless, these discoveries differ from those observed in a study assessing the attractiveness of facial profiles, which noted that clinicians (orthodontists and maxillofacial surgeons) were more strict about facial esthetics than nonclinicians (plastic artists and laypeople). However, all groups agreed on the choice of most attractive profiles.[24]

Similarly, the evaluators' choice of most attractive profiles conforms with that observed by Almeida et al.,[24] suggesting a universality of attractiveness judgments, as these evaluators agree on which faces were very attractive and which were accepted. Besides, our findings corroborate that of a meta-analysis, covering 919 studies and over 15,000 observers, which reported that people agree, both within and across cultures, who is attractive and who is not.[25] As suggested by the study of Lazzari et al,[10] for more compelling results about the level of conformity between the assessors and the tendency of esthetic judgment between groups with different fields of expertise, it is essential to emphasize that the ideal group would be one with a more significant number of participants than the one used in this research.

Conformity of the three esthetic groups to the golden ratio

Several studies have shown a correlation between attractiveness and proportions in face measurements approaching the golden ratio.[1],[7],[9] According to these reports, faces that have features with ratios close to the golden ratio are thought to be esthetically pleasing. However, to determine the validity of this claim, the present study was designed to verify the existence of divine proportions. The outcome of the present study, which measured 13 ratios using Meisner's landmarks, revealed that the faces of these students fall within the golden ratio proportions.[3] This study demonstrated the esthetically pleasant group to have the highest number of individuals (6 out of 7) with a facial ratio average approximating the golden ratio and thus corroborating the reports of several previous studies.[3],[14],[26]

Besides, Pancherz et al., found that the faces of attractive females and cover models had Ricketts facial ratios closer to phi than unattractive females. Furthermore, the faces of females rated as esthetically pleasant had average facial proportions that approximated the golden ratio.[14],[26] However, this study's category of females classified as esthetically acceptable also showed a large number (58 out of 87) of them having facial ratios that average the golden ratio with slight deviations. Therefore, the golden ratio is restricted to attractive faces and can also be found in average faces. A reason for this might be the high esthetic standards of the observers, that they classify attractive faces as normal or acceptable because they seek the extraordinary. Another reason might be that all faces have golden ratios; this is nature's arrangement, so it is not a particular ratio that determines attractiveness. Therefore, this finding supports the results of the study by Anand et al., that the whole population may indeed have exhibited some facial ratios that are similar to golden proportions;[8] consequently, this proportion could undoubtedly be a facial ratio that many faces show rather than a specific measurement that correlates with beauty. Furthermore, among individuals classed as esthetically unpleasant, this study reveals that a large number (4 out of 6) of these groups of females have facial ratios that average the golden ratio when approximated. With this finding, it appears that the golden ratio may not even be necessary as a measure of beauty since out of one hundred (100) females measured, sixty-eight (68) of them had averages that approximated the golden ratio, and observers or judges classified these individuals into different groups.

Furthermore, since none of the subjects had facial abnormalities, it could just be the golden ratio that defines the basic framework of the positions of key facial features, which is a feature of normality. Although according to Meisner, the number of golden ratios varied, and this study only measured thirteen ratios from his proposed landmarks among all three groups.[13] Therefore, future research should be carried out to verify the increased amount of golden facial proportions in attractive individuals.

In other findings, the golden facial ratios of the different horizontal and vertical facial reference points defined by Meisner among the three esthetic groups were isolated and tested for significant differences [Table 6]. Five horizontal facial proportions were insignificant, while only one was significant. For the vertical facial proportions, four out of six vertical ratios were not significant, leaving two vertical facial ratios significant, while the head height to head width ratio was significant. From these results, we infer that the head height to head width ratio is a measurement that determines beauty, as the esthetically acceptable and esthetically pleasant groups have mean ratios that are closer to the golden ratio compared to the esthetically unpleasant group, where individuals are farther to the golden ratio. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study that measured head height from Vertex to Menton as proposed by Meisner rather than from Trichion to Menton commonly used in previous studies.[27],[28] Its occasional use could be due to the variation in hairline among individuals and the fact that it is not a reliable measure for aesthetic analysis. The ratio of the top arc of the eyebrow to the top of the eyes and the bottom of the chin (V4) is another crucial measurement in this study. In contrast, the unpleasant group has a mean measurement far from the golden ratio standard. The ratio of the center of pupils to nose at nostrils to the center of lips (V5) and the size between the center of the face to the outside edge of the eye to the side of the face (H3) are vertical and horizontal proportions that are significant in an objective measure of facial beauty. Our results reveal that the mean values of the esthetically pleasant and esthetically acceptable groups are closer to the golden ratio than the unpleasant group, with the esthetically pleasing group showing minimal deviation from the golden ratio [Table 5].
Table 6: Descriptive statistics of measurements in the study groups

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Measurements of ratios between the other landmarks proposed by Meisner did not show any statistical significance. In the V1 (center of pupils to lips to the bottom of chin) ratio, the group classed as unpleasant had the highest deviation from the golden ratio, with a difference of 0.061. The V2 (center of pupils to nose at nostrils to bottom of chin) and H2 (side of the face to the inside of near-eye to inside of the opposite eye) ratios follow the same pattern with differences of 0.047 and 0.037, respectively. The unpleasant group had large deviations among the three groups in six (6) facial golden ratios. When isolated, this result demonstrated that the golden facial proportions could only be used to detect the attractiveness standard with four ratios (HH-HW, V5, V4, and H3) that showed a significant difference. The other ratios showed inconsistencies in their means, with the pleasant group sometimes showing more deviations from the golden ratio rather than less in specific proportions (V3, V6, H1, H3). However, in other ratios, the acceptable or unacceptable groups of individuals could deviate more. From this study, it could be that these ratios cannot be used in the objective assessment of facial beauty since it is expected that more of the horizontal and vertical proportions of the unpleasant groups should deviate more from the golden ratio, which is evidenced from the results of this study does not seem to be so. The present study's findings seem to be contrary to Jefferson's study because this investigation showed that while a relationship exists between the golden ratio and high attractiveness, it cannot be said that there is a relationship between the perception of beauty and the golden ratio.

  Conclusion Top

This research showed no relationship between subjective perception of beauty and the golden ratio. Nonetheless, there was an association between attractiveness and the golden ratio. Besides, the golden ratio cannot be used alone as an assessment of facial beauty because other members of the study group who do not belong to the esthetically pleasant group also conformed to the golden ratio.


The authors wish to acknowledge Mr B. Poopola for technical support.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

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  [Figure 1]

  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3], [Table 4], [Table 5], [Table 6]


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