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Survival of the Prettiest

The Science of Beauty

By Nancy Etcoff
12-minute read
Audio available
Survival of the Prettiest: The Science of Beauty by Nancy Etcoff

Survival of the Prettiest (1999) explores why people prefer things that are beautiful, revealing that our aesthetic tastes are not merely a matter of environment and culture. For instance, what we find beautiful has a lot to do with our innate desire for a strong and healthy child. And even three-month-old babies know beauty when they see it!

  • Social psychologists interested in scientific and feminist perspectives on beauty
  • Those who’ve wondered why an hourglass figure is thought to be attractive
  • Anthropologists who want to know more about our innate ability to detect beauty

Nancy Etcoff is a faculty member at Harvard Medical School. She has a Master of Education degree from Harvard, a PhD in psychology from Boston University and has studied the brain and cognitive sciences at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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