Visual Perception of British Women's Skin Color Distribution in Two Nonindustrialized Societies, the Maasai and the Tsimane'
In women with lightly pigmented skin in particular, facial skin color homogeneity decreases with age, primarily due to chronic
exposure to solar ultraviolet radiation (UVR), leading to a decrease in perceived health and attractiveness. Perception of female
skin may be influenced by continuous exposure to, and thus familiarity with, age-related changes in visible skin condition in a given
society. Men and women of two traditional societies, the Maasai (Tanzania) and the Tsimane’ (Bolivia), unfamiliar with lighter
colored skin, judged images of British women’s facial skin for age, health, and attractiveness. In both samples, images with
homogeneous skin color (from the cheeks of younger women) were judged to be younger and healthier and received a stronger
preference than corresponding images with heterogeneous skin color (from older women). We suggest that (i) human sensitivity
for quality-related information from facial skin color distribution is universal and independent of any known age-dependent
variation in skin in a given population and (ii) skin discoloration is universally associated with less positive judgment.